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Kelly Oubre Jr. benched Monday for missing team bus

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Oubre was demoted from the starting lineup, but still played 26 minutes in the blowout loss

Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

You may have noticed that Kelly Oubre Jr. was not in the starting lineup on Monday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

Not only were the Suns without breakout phenom and third-leading scorer Deandre Ayton (sore ankle, from turning it in the second half against Denver), they also started the game without their second leading scorer in Oubre.

The Suns lost by 25 to the Lakers, their third 20+ point loss in the past three weeks since a full handful of their veteran players started missing games together to injury. Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric were also out, along with Tyler Johnson going from injured to released.

That left the Suns with a starting lineup including 23-year olds Cheick Diallo and Cameron Johnson around Mikal Bridges, Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio. Rubio was the only player over age 24 in the game for the Suns, and no Phoenix Sun was taller than 6’8”. Going up against the West-leading Lakers behemoth front line and veteran bench.

Oubre’s absence turned out to be a one-game demotion to the bench for missing the team bus heading over to the arena.

Missed the team bus? In 12 months as a Phoenix Sun, I don’t recall Oubre missing the bus or being disciplined any other time.

Oubre, the source of so much pure Suns energy, was not good in the game and finished with his worst production since in 6 weeks, a 12/27 loss at Golden State. Oubre had 11 points on 4/16 shooting, including 0/4 on threes, plus 3/6 from the free throw line. Blech. He was -34 on the scoreboard.

Seems like the problem was bigger than just missing the team bus. Monty Williams called the benching an ‘internal’ problem and would not elaborate. Oubre himself said he missed the bus.

Good that Oubre admitted the mistake.

Hope it’s not something bigger than the good old fashioned murican version of the “corona virus” that cures itself after about 24 hours.