The Phoenix Suns had lost three of their last four games to end 2021 on a whimper after winning more games than any other team in the league in that calendar year. They needed to get back on a winning streak, but were on the road playing a resurgent Charlotte Hornets team that had won three straight and were 19-17 on the season.
None of that mattered. The previously slumping and dramatically short-handed Suns laid a walloping on the Hornets from the opening to the final buzzer.
In their 133-99 win, the Suns led by nearly 30 at halftime and by 40 in the fourth quarter before emptying the benches.
Highlighting the Suns dominant win were a pair of monster slams by the Suns replacement centers, filling in for Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee who remain out with COVID (as was another starter, Jae Crowder).
First, backup-backup-backup-backup-backup center, newly signed Bismack Biyombo laid one on his former teammates that induced him to bow to the fans.
Another look at this Biyombo beauty. pic.twitter.com/B1fEbwa6Gw— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 3, 2022
And then Jalen Smith inspired memories of the great Amare Stoudemire with this jam on Hornets center Mason Plumlee in the second half.
Here’s the freeze frame...
Another angle now...
When you think dunks, you might think ‘oh, that Miles Bridges can DUNK! He must have had a good one in this ga—’
Stix can’t come to the phone right now, he’s a little busy. pic.twitter.com/33xyTJ93oz— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 3, 2022
Nahh... Stix had other ideas.
Jalen Smith downloaded 19 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in this game, looking better than ever. The dude is seriously getting comfortable in that rotation role, and now he has a signature dunk to dance like sugarplums in our heads at night.
Biyombo had 11 points, 6 rebounds and one each of assist/steal/block for the Suns less than two days after signing a 10-day contract and without even the benefit of a practice with the team.
Welcome to the team, Biz! Biyombo had spent 7 of his 10 seasons in Charlotte before they released him this past offseason. He went unsigned in free agency, but looks like an excellent fit in the Suns scheme as a third center behind Ayton and McGee.
Both Biyombo and Smith were each +19 for the game for a +38 in 46 minutes of play.
Oh yeah, all the Suns looked great in this game too.
- Chris Paul had 16 assists with only 1 turnover
- Devin Booker had 24 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists
- Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges combined for 29 points
- Off the bench, Cam Payne had 14 points and Landry Shamet had 17
The Suns as a team made 50% of their shots, 41% of their 3s, were +17 on the boards, +9 on assists and +6 on steals.
Just a dominant effort against the playoff-level team in the East.
The Suns have started off 2022 with a bang, for sure.