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Center of the Sun: Booker Returns! Suns finish week with best record in the NBA

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers L (111-95) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers W/OT (111-107) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Washington Wizards W (118-98) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Charlotte Hornets W (137-106) Full Recap

Getting Booker back on Sunday was a definite plus but it really didn’t look like they needed him against Charlotte. Consider it a warmup game, almost for everyone as the starters all played 30 minutes or less.

This team is good. Damned good and how they’ve turned things around so quickly is a testament to James Jones’ vision for the team and Monty Williams’ coaching/leadership. Yeah, the players had something to do with it too but I have to give a great deal of the credit to James and Monty. They built this team and it’s winning culture out of a franchise that had floundered and been largely irrelevant for a decade.

The Suns’ new win streak stands at three. With 53 games to go, there’s plenty of time left to build on that.


Game Highlights

SUNS at CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 13, 2021

SUNS at TRAIL BLAZERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 14, 2021

Chris Paul Scores a Season-High 24 Points in Overtime Win vs Portland Trail Blazers

WIZARDS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 16, 2021

Deandre Ayton (15 PTS, 10 REB) Collects Double-Double vs. Washington Wizards

HORNETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 19, 2021

Devin Booker (16 PTS, 6 REB) Shines in Return vs. Charlotte Hornets


Key Stats

Take Your Pick!

I couldn’t bring myself to pick any individual stats this week because they are almost all exceptional. The Suns are 6th in offense, 3rd in defense and 3rd in net rating. 5th in assist to turnover ratio, 3rd in both EFG% and TS%, 3rd in points per game, 2nd in FG% and 4th in 3-point percentage. 4th in assists, 6th in steals and 7th in rebounding. The only important stats that the Suns aren’t in at least the top half of the NBA in are personel fouls (20th) and blocks (26th).

Random stats: For the first time since his rookie season (27.7 mpg), Devin Booker is not leading the Suns in minutes per game (31.9).


Quotes of the Week

“We can not just think we’re going to win every single game. You actually have to lock in and do all the little things to help you win.” - Mikal Bridges

“As good as he (Booker) is, I know he probably thought ‘I have to work even harder.’ I’ve seen that with him.” - Monty Williams

“We always have the next man up mentality. I go out and somebody comes back in. We just keep the train moving.” - Devin Booker


Injury Status Report

Abdel Nader (Knee) Game Time Decision.

Frank Kaminsky (Knee) Expected to be out until at least January 10.

Dario Saric (Knee) Expected to be out until at least April 1.


News & Notes

NBA, NBPA Agree To Temporarily Adjust Roster Rules. Hoops Rumors

Q&A: Mikal Bridges on lessons learned from Chris Paul, winning the West, and more. Hoops Hype

Devin Booker pulling out all the stops to heal, return to winning basketball. NBA.com

2 bold reasons the Suns will repeat their NBA Finals run. Clutch Points

Phoenix Suns’ Lack Of Backcourt Depth May Hinder Finals Chances. International Business Times

3 teams that must take a trade chance on Suns’ 2020 lottery pick Jalen Smith. Clutch Points

Updated Trade-Target Lists for Every NBA Team. Bleacher Report


This Week in Suns History

On December 23, 1989, the 9-12 Suns defeated the LA Clippers 104-100 at home to kick-start a 15-2 run (including a 10-game win streak) which improved their record to 24-14. The Suns would go on to finish the season with a 54-28 record and make it to the playoffs as the 5th seed in the West. They defeated the 4th seed Utah Jazz 3-2 in the first round and then the number one seed LA Lakers 4-1 in the semi-finals before falling 2-4 to the 3rd seed Portland Trail Blazers 2-4 in the Western Conference Finals.

On December 25, 1968, the Suns made their national television debut on Christmas day as an ABC audience and a season-high Coliseum crowd of 10,355 witnessed the Los Angeles Lakers post a 119-99 victory.


Suns Trivia

This year when the Suns play Golden State on Dec. 25, it will be the 19th time in franchise history that the Suns have played on Christmas Day. Historically, they are 12-6 (.667) overall in Xmas Day games which is the 4th best Xmas Day record among all NBA teams. Their last Xmas Day game was a 124-93 victory over the LA Clippers back in 2009. Following their 119-99 loss to LAL in their 1st ever Xmas Day game, the Suns went on a 9-game Xmas Day game win streak from 1969 through 1980.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, Dec. 21 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Laker 8:00 pm AZT (TNT)

Thursday, Dec. 23 - Phoenix Suns vs Oklahoma City Thunder 7:00 pm AZT

Saturday, Dec. 25 - Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors 3:00 pm AZT (ABC)

The Suns have three games this week starting on the road with the following two at home, the third being their first Christmas Day game since 2009.

First up the Suns head to LA for their second game of the season against the Lakers. The Suns are 1-0 against them so far and the LAL team has been pretty much a mess this season carried mostly by their star players to a record just an above .500. With Anthony Davis now out with a knee injury, they’re even more vulnerable. But with LeBron and Westbrook still on the court, don’t expect an easy win but do expect a win.

On Thursday the Suns return to Phoenix for their first matchup of the season against the rebuilding OKC Thunder. Although they recently beat the short-hander Clippers, OKC still has the worst record in the West and shouldn’t pose a threat to the Suns as long as they take this game seriously and aren’t looking past it to their Xmas Day game.

Finally, on Christmas Day the Suns welcome Golden State back to Footprint for their 3rd game of the season. The season series stands at 1-1 with the Warriors who, at the moment, seem to be the Suns biggest obstical to getting the number one seed in the West come playoff time. This has the potential to be one of the best regular season games of the year and is very important to both teams. It’s likely to be a close one but I’m predicting that the Suns get the win on their home court on Xmas Day.

This week I predict the Suns will go 3-0.

What’s your prediction?


Important Future Dates

January 10 - All Standard NBA contracts are guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

January 15 - All players signed during offseason can be traded. Last day to apply for a disabled player exception.

January 20 - All Two-Way Contracts are guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

February 10 - NBA Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET).

February 18-23 - NBA All-Star break.

February 20 - NBA All-Star Game.

March 1 - Playoff Eligibility Waiver Deadline.

April 10 - Regular season ends.

April 12-15 - Play-In Tournament.

April 16 - Playoffs begin.

May 17 - NBA Draft Lottery.

June 23 - NBA Draft.