After a week of struggles to close out an opponent with a lead, the Suns scored 12 points in the last 3.5 minutes behind Chris Paul’s brilliance at closing time.
After the Hawks tied the game at 103-103 with just over 3 minutes left, the Suns closed on a 14-7 run to beat the Hawks at home.
Dario Saric had a good game with 20 points on 7/8 shooting, and Jae Crowder had 19 points to help the team win when it mattered.
Devin Booker had 21 points, and Deandre Ayton had 13 and 14, and one of the biggest defensive stops of the night on Trae Young with less than a minute left.
Suns win! They are now 32-14 on the season.
Isn’t it nice to watch the Suns at a normal time? I’m not complaining about their Sunday morning affair against the Charlotte Hornets, or the plethora of 8:00pm start times prior to the rest of the country getting right and springing their clocks forward. I’m just stating that 7:00pm starts are just so nice and cozy.
Anyway, you didn’t come here to hear my takes on the Suns’ scheduled start times, you came here to gain some insight as to what occurred on Tuesday evening when the Hawks visited PHX Arena.
The Suns took an early 1-0 lead (and then 3-0) following a flagrant foul on Clint Capela as he did not allow Jae Crowder to land on a three-point attempt. It appears that the slump Jae found himself in during the Charlotte game was over. He scored 9 of the Suns first 17 points.
An early 10-point lead dissipated to three points as the first team unit for the Suns had a hard time generating offense outside of Ayton (7) and Crowder (9). Monty made the decision to substitute all starters not named Devin Booker with 4:16 left in the first, while the Hawks kept their starters in.
Williams going to Booker+4 reserves of Payne, Johnson, Craig and Saric. #Suns up 24-20 late in 1st half.— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 31, 2021
The Phoenix affinity for the three-ball continued in the first quarter, and after shooting 3-13 from deep in the fourth quarter/OT on Sunday, they shot 4-13 to start on Tuesday. That is a nice ‘lil 26.9% clip. Thankfully for the Suns they had 15 second chance points and left the first with a 30-27 lead.
Torrey Craig continued to impress while cash consideration sit on the bench in Milwaukee tonight. He had a nice little baseline dunk and 6 early points as the Suns bench outplayed the Hawks’ second unit.
And the Dario Saric showed up.
Saric has been in a slump ever since I put together a piece on his case for Sixth Man consideration. I am sorry Dario. I personally jinxed you for five games by doing so. Please forgive me. Saric had 13 bench points on 4-5 shooting, including a three, that was part of a 18-2 run by Phoenix in the second quarter. What is comical is that it all started when he accidently tipped in a rebound. For Atlanta.
The Suns outscored their bench production from the Charlotte game before halftime, scoring 25 (they 21 on Sunday vs. the Hornets). The Hawks, a team that is 28th in the league with 31.5 bench points, had 14.
Mika Bridges was tasked with guarding explosive pint guard Trae Young, although you will never neutralize someone that talented, you can make him work for very inch. And the Warden was making Trae work. He shot 3-10 in the first half and had 4 free throw attempts (pretty good for a foul baiter who averages 8.9 per game...3rd most in the league). HIs 8 assists is a credit to how he adjusted to what the Suns were giving him.
Phoenix found the range from deep in the second quarter, shooting 4-10, and took a 12-point lead into halftime. The Suns had 19 assists by halftime.
Accidentally deleted his line, but Saric is leading the Suns with 13 points on 4-5 FG. He needed a bounce-back game, and he's providing one— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) March 31, 2021
News came down during halftime that, due to ankle sprain, John Collins would not be retuning to the game. Collins 9 points on 4-6 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first half. His ability to get to the rim as a target for Young would be missed in the second half.
Devin Booker looked to score early and often in the third, creating space for mid-range jumpers and hitting high arcing three’s. He went 4-for-6 in the period for 11 points.
Trae Young committed three third quarter fouls, two of which were in an effort to prevent fast breaks. The Hawks pulled him with 7:02 in the third as that put him at 4 on the game. He would not enter the game again until 9:13 left in the game.
Surprisingly the Hawks closed the gap while Young was on the pine. Atlanta began hitting shots from deep, and after back-to-back super shots, they closed the gap to six points with 3 minutes left in the third. Danilo Gallinari, the prized offseason acquisition, carried the Hawks through a 14-6 run to end the quarter on 4 of 6 from deep.
Phoenix had the Hawks in foul trouble in the third, getting to the bonus with 6 minutes left. They did not attempt a free throw to end the quarter.
Atlanta outscored the Suns 33-25.
It has been noted as of late how the Suns have struggled in 4th quarters. The team started on a 9 to 5 run and pushed the lead to 8 with 9:13 left on a weakside dunk by Torrey Craig.
Enter Trae Young.
It appeared as this game was destined for “clutch time” moments as the Suns could not shake the Hawks. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Gallinari were nailing big threes and keeping their team within reach of the Suns.
The turnovers once again began to manifest themselves as Chris Paul dribbled the ball off of his leg. Booker wanted to play the “Booker Ball” iso-game just like the past few clutch time games and the Suns found themselves taking bas hots. Meanwhile the Hawks were attacking the rim and getting to the line. With 3:31 left, the game was tied.
Suns taking bad shots, Hawks getting shots at the rim and getting to the line.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) March 31, 2021
Tell me if you've seen this movie before...
Deandre Ayton hit a clutch turnaround jumper over Clint Capela to put the Suns up 2 with under 2 minutes. Mikal Bridges, following a timeout, faked a handoff and slammed one home to put the Suns up four. But Bogdanovic pocketed a tough three over Booker. Suns by 1.
Booker drove left and missed one off of the glass but Ayton was there to clean up the miss and put it home. Phoenix lead by 3 with 48.8 seconds left in the game.
Young drove to the hoop and turned the ball over into the hand of Deandrea Ayton, and after a crisp pass from Chris Paul, Jae Crowder converted a four-point play on as he ended the night the way he began it: being fouled on a three-pointer.
Phoenix ends on a 12-5 run, win by 7, and move to 32-14 on the season.
Thought the Suns had a solid game plan offensively.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) March 31, 2021
Straight up hunted Trae Young which opened up a ton of lanes and clean looks from deep.
It’s right back at it tomorrow night as the Phoenix Suns host the Nikola Vucevic and the Chicago Bulls. Remember that guy? He went for 27 and 14 in a one-point victory for the Orlando Magic last Wednesday night. And then the Magic dealt him (and what feels like half of the team) the following day.
So Vuce twice in a week. Yay! See you tomorrow!