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Center of the Sun: Suns getting knocked down and pushed around, and they’re letting it happen

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

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DENVER NUGGETS VS PHOENIX SUNS, NBA Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Current Record: 19-15

Offensive Rating: 116.1 (3rd)

Defensive Rating: 112.2 (12th)

Net Rating: +3.9 (6th)

Power Ranking:

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Peace on Earth? Goodwill towards man? A healthy Booker groin?

If that’s what you wanted, you need to hit Santa up, because he missed your house. You got none of that. Instead, you witnessed the Phoenix Suns’ a dismal and disappointing Week 10.

It started with a loss to the lowly Wizards, who had dropped 10 straight games. Phoenix had fallen down by as many as 17 points in the game, but rallied back with a flurry of three’s. It doesn’t hurt being the 7th best three-point shooting team in the league. Landry Shamet was making us feel things!

They then reminded us that they are not the Suns from last year.

This team crumbles in the clutch like mom’s Christmas cookies onto the carpet. A team that should be symbiotic is anything but, frantically passing the ball away from the moment, and ultimately turning it over at a high rate when the game matters the most. They looked discombobulated and disorientated. Again.

The Wizards were down 96-86, but Phoenix gave up a 23-4 run. Things weren’t all peachy keen on the sideline either as they lost 113-110.

I’ll take the sideline interaction with a grain of salt. Maybe even a pound. All we want is emotion from this team, from this coach. I’m not going to jump down their throats when we finally get it.

“Playing to the level of your competition”. It should be the Phoenix Suns tagline this year. Get on it marketing team. #PTTLOYC. It’ll look good on a teal towel.

Phoenix had a couple of nights off to think about that disappointing loss. The Memphis Grizzlies came to town and smacked the Suns in the mouth and on the boards. They matched the Suns rebound total in the first quarter on their offensive glass. 26 Q1 points in the paint, 10 second chance paints.

It was an ugly start to a game in which the Suns trailed by as many as 34 points and eventually lost by 25.

The Grizzlies were feeling themselves, screaming when they forced shot clock violations and talking all the crap that they felt they should.

Whoa. Real high standards there, buddy. You ain’t going to let someone score 50 on you? Booker has scored 50+ in 5 games his entire career, or 1%. Way to put yourself out there a limb, Brooks. Nerd.

What Memphis remind us is that the Suns are still the hunted.

They had the best record in the NBA last season. No one’s going to take it easy on them. They circle Phoenix on the schedule and look forward to an opportunity to beat a team that thoroughly defeated them last year. A bonus? Quieting Chris Paul. Fan bases are thoroughly enjoying the muting of Paul after 17 years of torture.

And then there was Christmas. Ho, ho, hosed.

I’m not saying Phoenix would’ve won this game. Or even should’ve. Devin Booker was out within the first four minutes, aggravating his groin injury. But due to the efforts of the bench, most notably Landry Shamet and Damion Lee, the team fought and maintained a 10-point lead for much of the game.

Denver, which now has the top seed in the Western Conference, rallied back and took advantage of the Suns’ lack of clutch play. They forced overtime, and then we witnessed what is the most savage slam dunks and most egregious overturned calls that I’ve probably ever seen.

Denver had no challenges left, but the NBA granted a review. Why? Because, “they were checking to see if Landry Shamet was outside of the restricted area”.

Um, did you see the replay? There was no need to check whether or not Landry was outside of the restricted area. He was practically in the locker room.

You tell me if you think he was outside of the restricted area:

Oh, three feet outside the restricted area. How convenient for the Nuggets. Such is the NBA. Making it up as they go.

And while Landry did lean, he leaned more away from the semi truck that was coming down the lane than into him. But the call was overturned, the momentum shifted, and Phoenix lost again.

0-3 on the week.

There was one win this past week. The Phoenix Suns have identified a new owner!

It’s time to put the Sarver Era behind us. It’s time to move on. And hopefully Mat Ishbia will assist with this. He and his brother have already taken a huge step towards investing in the community, as Justin Ishbia donated $100,000 to Bright Side Night.

It’s a good start and getting the fan base like you.

While Phoenix lost three battles this past week, hopefully they’re winning the war. The team is being purchased by a basketball guy, someone who cares about the team, and understands the game.

Things now become interesting for James Jones.

Typically when a new owner arrives, – and we don’t know exactly when he’ll arrive as the purchase of an organization for $4 billion probably has a lot of “t’s” to cross and “i’s” and lowercase “j’s” to dot – they want to make an impact. Typically this is with their own guys.

James Jones – good, bad or indifferent – is part of the previous regime. It will be interesting to see how this is navigated, and how short of a leash James Jones has. This year’s trade deadline, especially given the current state of the Suns, needs to be one with action. What will Jones, a guy whose only tradeline move is bringing Torrey Criag to Phoenix in consecutive years, do?

More to come, more to follow, and more to cover.


Player of the Week

Landry Shamet

25.7 points, 3 rebounds, 4.7 assists

45.6 FG%, 44.2 3PT%, 100 FT%

Two 31-point performances from Landry? With Devin Booker out, Shamet is receiving the repetitions needed to be successful. He is gaining consistency, thus driving confidence, and has put together two stellar games this past week. Unfortunately...

Shamet tied a franchise record with nine made three-point attempts against the Wizards on Tuesday. It was an impressive performance that would have gained our attention had the team emerged victorious.

Take some time out of your day. Watch his game, appreciate his swag, and hope that other teams do too. He’d be a nice part of a trade.


Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards (L, 113-110) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies (L, 125-100) FULL RECAP

Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets (L, 125-125, OT) FULL RECAP


Highlights/Post Game Podcasts

WIZARDS at SUNS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 20, 2022:

397. Suns (19-13) vs. Wizards Post Game Pod:

GRIZZLIES at SUNS | NBA FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 23, 2022:

398. Suns (19-14) vs. Grizzlies Post Game Pod:

SUNS at NUGGETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 25, 2022:

399. Suns (19-15) @ Nuggets Post Game Pod:


News & Notes

Fan Nation: Twitter Reacts to Mat Ishbia Buying Phoenix Suns

Clutch Points: Dillon Brooks’ savage Devin Booker trash talk makes Grizzlies-Suns must watch

Fan Nation: Charles Barkley on State of Suns: ‘It’s Not Working’

Sports Keeda: Devin Booker trade: Looking at the top 3 potential destinations if Phoenix Suns star chooses to move

Arizona Sports: Mikal Bridges apologized to Deandre Ayton, Suns after on-court spat

Burn City Sports: Mikal Bridges Joins Elite Club in Loss to Grizzlies

Heavy Sports: NBA GM Sounds Off on Top Trade Target’s Tactics: ‘What Are You Doing?’


Quotes of the Week

“I’m going to play every night I can.” — Chris Paul

“We’re a family.” — Deandre Ayton

“DA was just frustrated and I was just quiet in it because I already knew what I did. I messed up. He was yelling at both of us, telling us ya’ll two cut it out.” — Mikal Bridges

“Everybody got to see us intensified in the moment. Damn, we lost our upper hand. It can get a little emotional. Oh I thought you said this, but Coach clarified it up in the huddle where we all were exchanging words.” — Deandre Ayton

“Whether it’s Boston, Memphis, these teams that are big and physical, and want to put their hands on us, we don’t have the pregame edge we’ve had around here. We’ve got to get back to chasing something. I feel like the prey, and I don’t like that feeling.” — Monty Williams

“I’m not going to downplay the fact we miss Book. Of course we do. He’s an All-NBA guy. He should be in the MVP conversation.” — Landry Shamet

“I didn’t know they were going to have guys come at me like that.” — Deandre Ayton

“I just looked back at it. I was moving a little bit I guess. It just sucks that bang-bang plays can be reviewed.” — Landry Shamet


Key Stat

39 FG%

Suns field goal percentage in the clutch, 26th overall in the NBA.


Injury Status Report

Devin Booker (groin soreness) is QUESTIONABLE

Cameron Payne (foot) is OUT

Duane Washington, Jr. (hip) is OUT

Cameron Johnson (right meniscus) is NO TIME TABLE FOR RETURN

Jae Crowder (ringing in the New Year without a new team) is NOT WITH TEAM


This Week in Suns History

December 29, 2004

Remember when the Suns had a fireballer from deep, someone who consistently would tickle the twine from beyond the arc? For one miraculous season, back in 2004-05, the Suns employed a sharpshooter from DePaul, Quentin Richardson. He averaged 14.9 points from the small forward position and was a key cog in the Seven Seconds or Less offensive as his quick trigger resulted in a flurry of three’s.

On December 29, 2004, Quentin Richardson and the Suns were in New Orleans playing the Hornets when he made some history.

In the third quarter, with the Suns up 67-64, he began to heat up. In a span of 84 seconds, Q hit three three-pointers. Phoenix wouldn’t turn back, winning the game 107-96, but it was Richardson’s performance that was noteworthy.

He was 11-of-23 from the field, scoring 31 points. But it was his 9-of-16 from deep that was impressive, as it set the mark for the most made three-pointers by a member of the Phoenix Suns. The previous record was 8, done twice by Dan Majerle (1/30/93, 11/9/93) and once by Jason Kidd (3/17/93).

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets

Suns Trivia

How many total times has a Sun hit nine super shots? For some this is common knowledge. For others, it’s good to know! So here you go:

  • Quentin Richardson: 12/29/04
  • Channing Frye: 4/11/11
  • Aron Baynes: 3/6/20
  • Cameron Johnson: 3/4/22
  • Landry Shamet: 12/20/22

Landry Shamet matched this mark this past Tuesday, hitting nine from beyond the arc against the Washington Wizards. It was the first time in franchise history that a member of the Suns hit nine bombs...and lost.


Upcoming Games

Tuesday, December 27 — Phoenix Suns @ Memphis Grizzlies

Wednesday, December 28 — Phoenix Suns @ Washington Wizards

Friday, December 30— Phoenix Suns @ Toronto Raptors

Here comes the road trip, a 6-game run across the East Coast for Phoenix. It starts against Memphis, a team that just waxed the Suns a few nights ago. Memphis is playing well, and add to the fact that their roster is healthy, and they are a dangerous team.

At least in the regular season.

Time will tell come postseason how potent this team is. They possess imposing size, but we’ve seen Steven Adams played off the court in the playoffs as teams strategically pull him away from the paint. Next Tuesday isn’t the postseason, however, and the Grizzlies are slicing through the Western Conference.

They’re 13-2 at FedEx Forum, they’re brash, and they’re hoping they get a shot at Devin Booker. Well, Dillon Brooks is.

Phoenix has lost their last three to the Grizzlies and this will be the 100th regular season matchup between the two teams.

From FedEx Forum to the city that houses FedEx Field (home of the Washington Commanders), the Suns play the following night against the Washington Wizards. I can give you all of the reasons why Phoenix should win. The Wiz are struggling. Yada, yada, yada.

Phoenix should have won last week. But they didn’t. You can’t “play to the level of your competition” when you’re fighting for seeding in a mucky Western Conference. Phoenix, however, does.

To their credit, after defeating the Suns, Washington lost to Utah but then beat the Sacramento Kings in Sac Town. No beam lit that night. They are now 13-21. 12th in the East. 22nd offensive rating. 25th defensive rating. 25th net raring.

Win this one, Phoenix. Please.

The week rounds out in the North as the Suns head north of the border to play the 14-18 Toronto Raptors. Will the Raptors mascot be looking for revenge against Devin Booker? Oh, we shall see.

Toronto has had an interesting run thus far this year. After entering the season as +2000 favorites (per DraftKings sportsbook) favorites to win the Atlantic Division, they’ve been inconsistent. They’ve lived around .500 all year, then recently lost 6 straight games and 9 of their previous 11.

They lead the league in steals. They also lead in by committing the fewest turnovers. Their problem isn’t on the defensive end — they allow the 7th least points — but on offense. They’re 27th in 2PT%, 29th in 3PT%, and 27th in overall FG%.

If Phoenix can start early, a challenge for the team at times, they can jump on the Raptors and put them away early.

If.


Weekly Prediction: 2-1

There’s no reason why the Suns can’t go 2-1 this week. Somehow, I feel, they’ll find a way to prove me wrong.

Memphis is hungry and wants to dominate everyone. With their size, ability to rock the boards, and Ja Morant’s quickness, they can. They’re pretty close to a complete team, even with Lionel Richie’s love child Danny Green out. At home, where they’re dominant, it’s a tough task.

Washington and Toronto, however, are highly winnable games. So win ‘em! Just hope we don’t enter clutch minutes.

Poll

What will the Suns record be in Week 11?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    3-0
    (7 votes)
  • 18%
    2-1
    (17 votes)
  • 55%
    1-2
    (52 votes)
  • 19%
    0-2
    (18 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now

We enter the final week of 2022. Believe it or not, from a calendar year standpoint, 2022 has been one of the best years in Phoenix Suns history. As it currently stands – including their 2022 playoff record – from January 1 to December 25, the team is 55-25 in 2022. That is a .667 winning percentage. That ranks 8th all time in 55 years of Suns basketball.

What are the other greatest calendar years in Suns history, you ask?

  1. 2007: 62-22 (.716)
  2. 2021: 72-28 (.710)
  3. 1993: 62-21 (.701)
  4. 1990: 60-24 (.690)
  5. 1992: 55-23 (.686)
  6. 1988: 55-27 (.671)
  7. 2005: 55-26 (.670)

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes we are too caught up in the moment, caught up in the losing streak, caught up in the poor play in the clutch, to realize that in the grand scheme of things this organization has been and is still heading in the right direction.

Are there some kinks that need to be worked out? Always. No team is perfect. Especially this one right now. But we’re on the right path, we have the right assets to get us there (considering we have a Jae Crowder contract to trade and all of our draft picks).

So enjoy the last week of basketball in 2022, and start thinking about 2023 next week.

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