The Phoenix Suns showed up defensively after their lost against Atlanta and hold down the fort against the Washington Wizards in a game that was over before the halftime ended. After allowing 110 points or more in their last 4 games, they hold their opponent to 32 points in the first half - only 11 at the second quarter - and blowout Washington 95-80.
Despite only 11 points from Booker, Deandre Ayton had a great bounce back game, showing his conditioning and level of activity keep improving ever since coming back from that ankle injure. He finished the game with 20 points and 16 boards in just 23 minutes. Chris Paul added 14 and 9 assists, while Bridges had 12 and Booker had only 11 as Monty did not put the starters back on the court after the end of the third.
The lead was so large at that point (34) that, in fact, the Suns could have gone scoreless in the fourth quarter and still would have won the game.
It was a night for the Suns big men to shine. McGee had himself 15 points and 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in only 14 minutes, and even Jalen Smith scored 8 and 5 in 22 minutes - most of those in the fourth quarter. The only outlier on that front was Bismack Biyombo’s play in the fourth, going 0-4 from the field. He still got 7 rebound though, as Phoenix outrebounded the Wizards 75 (!!) to 50.
They now move on to a tough back-to-back, going to Chicago on Monday and then to Philadelphia on Tuesday before heading back to Arizona and facing the Bucks for a finals rematch next Thursday.
The Suns start off cold, missing the first three shots and starting 2-8 from the field, but their defense keeps them close. After Washington opens up a 10-5 lead early, the Suns go on a 12-2 run, including a DA and-1, a Bridges steal and break away dunk and a Booker transition three to make it 17-12 and force the Wizards to call the first time-out with 6:19 to go in the first.
Ayton keeps his activity, scoring on a couple of alley-oops - including an impressive defense to offense play with Mikal, and Paul starts scoring as the Suns fight to build their lead. Monty calls his first time-out with 2:54 left and a 26-17 lead.
Deandre Ayton ladies and gents pic.twitter.com/ZXnMSA7SgU— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) February 6, 2022
The teams trade a couple of baskets and misses until Booker finds Bridges open for a corner three and follows it up with a mid ranger of his own to build the lead to 33-21 in the end of the quarter. Ayton led all scorers with 9 points and 4 boards, while Bridges had 8 points and Booker added 7.
The Suns come out in the Second with Stix and McGee and they both come out active, combining the Suns first six points until CP3 hits his mid ranger, making it an 8-2 run for an 18 point lead, forcing Wes Unsled Jr. to call his first time-out of the quarter with 8:44 to go. It doesn’t do too good, as Cam Johnson and Stix both score as McGee keeps the paint closed for the driving Wizards guards, quickly making it 48-23 before Dinwiddie manages to go to the line for 2 free-throws. It takes a rare mishandle by Chris Paul followed by a break-away Dunk by Avidja for Monty to call time up 50-27, with 5:37 to go.
Ayton comes out focused, getting scoring, rebounding and assisting a Crowder 3, but the Wizards finally start making some shots in the quarter, at least keeping the lead from expanding to thirty, as the Suns go to half time up 59-32. Ayton goes had 13 points and 11 boards in 15 minutes and Chris Paul had 7 points and 7 assists and a game best +23.
The goal for the Suns coming out of the half should be to stay aggressive on both sides and keep building as to get their stars, mainly CP3, some rest in the fourth. They do just that, coming out with a 10-6 run with buckets from everyone but Book, forcing another Wizards time out with 7:57 to go in the third.
Gafford and Bertans come in for the Wizards for the first time in the game to try and control the Suns advantage inside the paint, but Booker and CP3 hit back to back mid range jumpers in response as the teams trade baskets. Chris, as usual, starts to target the bigs until McGee and Bertans get tangled during a pick and Javale gets called for technical, as Monty decides to call a time-out to cool things off.
Some teams have point guards. We have a Point Gawd pic.twitter.com/qfnGDIJF2b— PHNX Suns (@PHNX_Suns) February 6, 2022
The Suns come back and CP3 gets another of his classic rip-throughs on Avidja, McGee and Stix both get blocks on the other end and Booker finds a Cam Johnson cut to score one more time. Chris then gets a steal and tries to get his 10th assist on the fast break, but Jalen Smith misses the dunk as he is fouled and goes to the line. The third ends with a 85-51 lead for Phoenix and Monty should be calling this one and sending in the bench squad in the fourth.
He does so, with Payton, Ish Wainright, Cam Johnson, Stix and McGee, but the Wizards go on a quick 6-0 run and the Suns call a time-out with 10:24 to go. They come out with good execution for the McGee dunk and Cam Johnson gets a drive over Harrel. Bismack comes in for McGee to finally get some minutes after the DNP last game, but commits a TO leading to a fast break and follows it up with a shooting foul in the next defensive possession.
Justin Jackson then comes in for Cam Johnson at the 7:47 mark and Harrel gets another foul on Bismak as the Wizards keep chiping away at the lead, as the Suns had only scored 4 points in the quarter by then. When the Wizards called a time out with 5:13 remaining, they had only scored 7 points, but the lead was still at 92-70. The team did not turn the corner, as the Wizards still managed to chip away and the Suns squad refused to score. The quarter ended 29-10 for Washington, but the game final score was still 95-80.