Coming into the second night of a back-to-back after an emotional win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Phoenix Suns had no juice to start this one. They didn’t get to their hotel in Washington DC until 4:00am, so you can imagine how their bodies were feeling.
They got down as many as 19 points to the Washington Wizards early in this one before finding enough to make it a game by late in the third quarter (down only 1 point, 83-82).
Then the wheels came off and the Suns lost this one by 25 points, 127-102.
The Wizards made 57% of their shots in this one thanks to the Suns dead legs (remember, they’re down five rotation players). Needless to say, that’s outstanding for the league’s 23rd ranked offense. They also outrebounded the Suns by 16, had 12 more free throws and turned 11 Suns turnovers into 16 points.
The game was closest late in the third quarter, 83-82, when Deandre Ayton (24 points), Mikal Bridges (15) and Chris Paul (16) took rest breaks. The Wizards opportunistically put back in some starters and went on an 18-4 run to blow the game back open.
That was game, basically.
Deandre Ayton had 20 first half points to keep the Suns alive and finished with a season-high 31 points on 14-22 shooting. He also added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. But it wasn’t nearly enough because the Suns were outscored by 14 when he rested before we got to garbage time.
Mikal Bridges finished with 17 points, almost all of those in the first half, and Chris Paul finished with 20 points, 7 assists, 2 each of rebounds, steals and blocks.
Nobody else really showed up.
The Wizards were buoyed by their Suns trade rumor candidates. In the past week, the Suns have been linked to all of Kyle Kuzma (Suns want), Deni Avdija (Suns want) and Rui Hachimura (Suns apparently don’t want), and all three had very good games against their potential future employer:
- Hachimura, maybe pissed the Suns rumored to reject him, had a career high 28 points on 11-13 shooting
- Kuzma started the game with 13 quick points to help build a big lead, finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal.
- Avdija was the quietest of the three, but still had 8 points and 5 assists and was very active on defense with deflections to disrupt the Suns passing lanes.
The game was so frustrating for the Suns, who played poorly but also got the bad end of the whistle again, that Monty Williams, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul all got techs for yelling at the officials over calls.
The game was one of runs, digging a 19-point hole, cutting it to one, then letting it build to 25 at the final buzzer.
The Suns are now 6-11 on the road (20-15 overall), and the Wizards are now 10-7 at home (15-21 overall).
The Suns now head to Toronto to continue their road trip.
Suns are missing all of Devin Booker (groin), Cameron Johnson (knee), Landry Shamet (achilles), Cameron Payne (foot) and of course Jae Crowder (sigh). That’s five rotation players, guys.
The Wizards are missing Bradley Beal (ankle).
The Suns started off as you would expect on the second night of a back-to-back where they got into Washington at 4am, with every shot coming up short and every movement coming a half-second (or full second) too late.
When Kyle Kuzma made a 29-foot three to put the Wizards up 15-4 less than four minutes into the game, Monty Williams had to call a timeout to rally his troops. The Suns rallied a little bit, pulling the score to 23-15, but the Wizards stepped on the shooting gas again and pulled right back out to a big lead.
At one point the Wizards led by 19 points, until the Suns finally woke up a little and scored 25 over the last 5 minutes of the second quarter to finish the half down only 9.
The Wizards made 56% of their shots in the first half, were a +10 on rebounds (24-14), +3 on free throws (8-5), and +22 on points in the paint (32-10)... and yet only led by 9.
Josh Okogie started the second half for Jock Landale. I guess Monty Williams really wanted Okogie’s defensive effort in the lineup.
This half didn’t start much better than the first half, with the Wizards attacking the glass as the Suns mostly watched. The Wizards lead quickly got to 13 again, on a drive to the hoop by Porzingis.
But the Suns wouldn’t go away, cutting the Wizards lead to seven (69-62) to force a Wizards timeout. Chris Paul really started to put his stamp on the game, dictating pace and getting the Suns, or himself, into great shooting opportunities.
Despite the Wizards making a couple of improbable shots, the Suns kept the deficit between 5-9 points for the next few minutes until a Damion Lee three cut the Wizards lead to 2 with just over three minutes left in the quarter.
Just as the Suns cut that lead to 83-82, Ayton takes a rest on the bench, with Jock Landale coming in to spell him. Bad spell for Jock, who misses a pocket pass and commits a foul that helps put the Wizards back up by six, 88-82.
The Wizards really used the last few minutes of the third quarter by putting back in most of their starters once the Suns went full-bench, and they were outscored 10-2 really quickly. Chris Paul had to come back in to settle things down.
Duane Washington Jr. did not have a good follow up game in his hip pocket. Through the end of three, DWJ had ‘only’ 8 points on 8 shots, plus 2 assists. And unfortunately, several team defense problems leaving scorers/drivers wide open.
Soon the Suns were down 13 points again before Ayton came back in with 10:43 left in the game. The Suns went -12 in the four minutes he sat.
And then immediately the Suns turned it over again, leading to a Wizards 4 on 1 fast break, and the Suns deficit was back to 15 points, 101-86.
Not the Suns night, folks. And it’s just the bench that really fell apart this time. Like, can’t even get a shot against one of the league’s WORST defenses. Tough to watch.