The Suns played with their food and dropped a very winnable home game against the young Hornets squad. Leading by as many as 17, Phoenix allowed Charlotte to creep back in the game.
The defensive intensity wavered, and ultimately the poor free throw shooting combined with the shaky defense costed Phoenix this game.
LaMelo Ball took over making plays for himself and others down the stretch finishing with 20/8/4 leading the Hornets to the road win.
Each team shot 27 free throws... Charlotte missed two, Phoenix missed eight. Phoenix lost by three, 124-121. That’s your ballgame right there.
The pace was torrid to start the game, with the Suns jumping out to a 27-22 lead in the first 8 minutes of the game. The teams traded punches back and forth, but Phoenix created a bit of separation after an 8-0 run led by Devin Booker’s 11 points in the opening 8 minutes before a Monty Williams timeout.
Right after the timeout, Booker continued his dominance with another 5 quick points to put his total up to 16 points. He was undoubtedly locked in from the jump.
He also had this ridiculous behind-the-back dime to Deandre Ayton.
BoOker iS nOT an ALl-sTAr... pic.twitter.com/N9vl9qNeJC— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) February 25, 2021
Phoenix closed the 1st quarter a bit sloppy, allowing Charlotte to cut the lead down to just 4 with the score 38-to-34 heading into the 2nd quarter.
Points in the paint 22-18 Charlotte through one quarter. That's gonna give on one side or the other.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) February 25, 2021
Phoenix began the 2nd half with strong play from the Chris Paul/Dario Saric duo, scoring 11 straight points for the Suns between the two.
Charlotte called a timeout with 7:51 remaining in the 2nd quarter after the Suns jumped out to a 53-to-40 lead.
The teams continued their game of runs, as Malik Monk got hot and kept Charlotte afloat just when it seemed like the Suns were going to pull ahead. Monk had 22 points in the first half.
Imagine not watching Devin Booker every night pic.twitter.com/C9SmybHkdA— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 25, 2021
Phoenix once again closed a quarter poorly, allowing Charlotte to cut into the lead and only led by one heading into the half up 67-to-66.
Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges combined for 30 of their 67 first half points, on an ultra efficient 18 shots attempts combined.
The Hornets jumped out to a hot start in the 3rd, picking up where they left off closing out the 2nd quarter.
Monty Williams successfully challenged a charge that was called on Devin Booker to avoid his 4th foul. Moments later (the next play) Booker got called for a push off and whistled for his fourth foul in typical Suns fashion.
Hornets opened the second half with a 7-0 run, now the Suns are on a 7-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead. Terry Rozier was T'd up during the timeout, 8-0 run.— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) February 25, 2021
LaMelo Ball hit a pair of threes on consecutive possessions to give Charlotte a 6 point lead midway through the third quarter.
The three point shooting barrage continued for the Hornets in the third quarter. Phoenix cooled down from deep and continued to chuck shots up which ultimately led to the Hornets building a 10-point lead.
In a game Phoenix had led by as many as 17, they entered the 4th quarter trailing the Hornets by the score of 97-91.
A suspect technical assessed on Booker after some metal jawing between the Hornets bench and Booker came at a costly time, just as Phoenix started to gain momentum.
Chris Paul hit a pull-up two to cut the Hornets’ lead to just 7 before a Charlotte timeout came to try and stop the Suns from gaining any momentum.
Fight to the finish. pic.twitter.com/r59O2sggxe— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 25, 2021
The Suns went on an 11-0 scoring run to tie the game up at 110 with 3:25 to go. Charlotte quickly responded with a 5-0 run of their own to take a 5-point lead with 3 minutes left, leading to a Phoenix timeout.
Phoenix tried their best to fight back but it was too little too late. They have to realize that now that they are considered a top-tier team they are going to get “lesser” teams’ best on a nightly basis.
Credit to the Hornets offense, but the Suns defense just didn't show up tonight.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) February 25, 2021
They cannot play like they've arrived or accomplished anything yet or this will be the result in games like this.
Star of the Game
Devin Booker- 33 PTS, 3 AST, 1 STL, 13/23 FG, 4/9 3PFG, 3/4 FT.
Up next: Suns @ Bulls— Friday at 6 P.M. in Chicago.