Unlike the weekend slate, the Suns made a concerted effort to get the ball to Deandre Ayton inside to start the game, rather than having him isolate in the post. Ayton scored eight of the Suns’ first 11 points, a good sign against Jarrett Allen, against whom Ayton’s always struggled.
However, it was more of the same on defense. Dribble penetration against this Suns team is just too easy, especially with Ricky Rubio lingering on the injury report for the last couple weeks. He’s clearly not 100 percent physically, making it easy on Spencer Dinwiddie to get inside to open this game.
Jalen Lecque found his way onto the court in the first quarter and his form and confidence looked good on a couple open threes. That’s a shot he’s going to have to at least take when he starts playing consistently in the NBA, so these minutes can be valuable from a confidence standpoint.
The Suns collapsed epically to close out the first. They gave up five points in the last 0:30 to finish the period down, 35-31.
The Suns have been bad at closing quarters this season but it's gonna be tough to top those 12 seconds right there— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) February 4, 2020
Both offenses stagnated to open the second, as the bench units the Suns are forced to play right now are full of guys not ready to contribute whatsoever. It wasn’t until a big Jevon Carter three that the Suns’ offense showed any signs of life.
Even once the starters returned, Devin Booker’s cold shooting made it hard for the Suns as a whole to get going. When Booker checked in with about 8:34 remaining, the Suns had a golden opportunity, tied at 37, to take the lead. But Booker went 0-2 with a turnover and just two points in about four minutes of action before returning to the bench. Monty Williams looked to be taking it easy with minutes all night.
Without Booker’s production, the Suns were only able to get one point back in the second period and went into halftime down, 55-52.
The third quarter belonged to Taurean Prince. The former Hawk became the latest wing to be enshrined into the “physical guy who’s like 6-7 or 6-8 with some playmaking ability who kills the Suns” hall of fame. Prince scored 10 in the third, but even those buckets were also a product of dribble penetration by Brooklyn, with Caris LeVert getting in on the action as well.
Two of Prince’s made field goals were wide-open threes generated by drives to the basket finished off with a kick-out to Prince. The Suns couldn’t combat it without Booker and with Ayton reverting back to his preferred midrange game despite another great rebounding night.
By the fourth quarter, Williams basically waved the white flag with Ricky Rubio hardly playing. Rubio clearly is not fully healthy, but the Suns don’t have many other options. The only positive of the final frame was getting to see a more aggressive version of Mikal Bridges, who was working the midrange pull-up game quite a bit and surprising the Nets’ defense.