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Final Score: Suns drop game to Kings, 106-103

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Deandre Ayton got in foul trouble again, and the Suns flat-footed their way to their first loss since March.

Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Suns suffered through a terrible shooting night, an awful deficit in size, couldn’t draw any fouls, and yet still had a chance to win the game on Saturday night against the Kings in Sacramento.

But the Kings pulled out the win with grit, hustle and shot-making to run their record to 2-0.

In the final two minutes, it was Richaun Holmes weak side offensive rebounding and foul-drawing that gave the Kings the cushion they needed to keep the Suns at bay.

Kings win the game 106-103

“This was the first time in a long long time that I feel like we got outworked,” coach Monty Williams said after the game. “We started out in a trot.”

That’s two games in a row that DA has gotten into early foul trouble while Devin Booker has had 7+ turnovers. Not an easy combination to overcome.

Tale of the tape

  • Kings outrebounded the Suns 55-40
  • Kings blocked 9 shots to the Suns 5
  • Kings got 15 offensive rebounds
  • Kings had 33 free throws to the Suns measly 13

Suns leaders

  • Devin Booker 26 points, 3 assists, 2nd on team with +3 — 7 turnovers, 5 fouls
  • Chris Paul 22 points, 12 assists
  • Deandre Ayton 9 points, 12 rebounds, team-high +7 — 5 fouls
  • Jae Crowder 17 points, 8 rebounds

Kings leaders

  • De’Aaron Fox 24 points, 7 assists
  • six Kings with 10+ points, and four Kings with 8+ rebounds

First half

The Suns came out flat, starting down 11-0 then 15-2 with Kings playing hard and fast. All five Kings starters scored. Then Devin Booker went to work and the Suns scored three straight times — 2 scores and an assist.

Suns still down 20-12 when the second unit fully stepped in around Booker to right the ship in a much needed way. Cam Payne got a couple buckets and an assist, help Suns cut lead to 27-21.

Damian Jones did not look good again as the main backup big. Is Jones playing volleyball? Because he’s knocked several shots out of bounds with a single fist punch. I know it’s a good idea to punch at the ball in traffic to hit to a teammate, but the Suns teammates off the floor were not eligible to catch the board.

Despite that, the second unit (buoyed by Booker or Paul) pulled the Suns back to a 33-33 tie and kept the Suns in the game until the starters all came back. At the half, it was 58-54 Kings as a CP3 shot was ruled just after the buzzer.

Second half

The Suns finally took the lead mid-third on a Booker three-point play (72-70). But the lead was short lived as DA — their only quality inside defender — picked up two more fouls and sat for the rest of the quarter.

At the end of three, Devin Booker led the Suns with 22 points and Chris Paul had 14 points and 10 assists.

But that was pretty much all the Suns had. By the end of the third, the Kings expanded their rebound lead to 41-27, their free throw attempts lead to 22-6, their fast break lead to 7-2 (low for both teams) and their scoring lead to 83-79. The Kings just kept working and working, playing with confidence and speed, to keep the Suns on their heels.

And the Kings took advantage of their size. They played two of Richaun Holmes (6’10”), Hassan Whiteside (7’1”), Marvin Bagley (6’11”) and Nemanja Bjelica (6’10”) at all times. The Suns could counter with Ayton (6’11”), once again in foul trouble, and Damian Jones (6’11”) in the middle, with Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges at the forwards. Jalen Smith (6’10”) had only a first half cameo, and Frank Kaminsky (7’0” finally came in mid-fourth.

The Kings stretched the lead to 87-81 but the Suns wouldn’t go away, pulling back to 89-88 and staying within a possession much of the rest of the fourth. Deandre Ayton’s presence made a difference once again on both ends (team-high +7 in 25 minutes) until he picked up foul number 5 with 7:35 left and once again had to take a seat.

Without good inside scoring or any kind of deep range scoring (missed 31 of 41 three pointers through mid-fourth!), it’s amazing the Suns stayed in the game.

But the Suns just could not break through.