Sacramento. The ‘City of Trees’. Yeah, that is it’s nickname. The Phoenix Suns played the Sacramento Kings for the third time this season and and packing their bags with a win/loss in tow.
It was an emotional affair on Sunday between the division rivals with whistles a-plenty. The best team in the NBA had three players foul out. They lost Jae Crowder to an injury as well. Behind the efforts of Mikal Bridges’ 27 points and Landry Shamet’s cold-blooded shooting — and 20 points — the team overcame adversity for their 58th win.
Here is how it went down.
Elfrid Payton received the start at point guard on Sunday as the Suns chose to sit Cameron Payne. The designation was “non-COVID related illness”. Payne has been on a tear of late, averaging 15.2 points and 9.7 assists in his last 9 games. But alas, Phoenix would not have his services.
Got some interesting side stories here:— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 20, 2022
1. Aaron Holiday facing brother Justin Holiday.
2. Trey Lyles and Devin Booker were teammates at Kentucky.
3. Donte DiVincenzo and Mikal Bridges were teammates at Villanova.
This is Elfrid Payton's 1st start this season. #Suns #Kings
The jump shooting of the Suns faltered early as Payne, Bridges, and Booker could not dial in the mid-range shot. The team began the night 1-of-8 from outside of the paint. Thankfully Deandre Ayton was engaged on the glass and in the paint, posting 6 points and 3 rebounds in the first quarter.
Booker took on a bigger playmaking role, and it was evident that the Kings had devised a simple approach to deal with him: blitz him. In SacTown, Book saw the double teams early and often. The first team unit was disoriented throughout the first quarter, as the majority of them were sent to the bench with a -7. The second team had a +3 rating, with JaVale McGee scoring a +5.
Phoenix went another quarter without attempting a free throw. Sacramento had a 26-22 lead after one quarter of play because to their three-point shooting (5-of-9 in Q1, 55.6%).
To start the second quarter, Phoenix tried to pick up the tempo by pressing the ball in transition and employing precise passing to find open looks. Some of the passes, particularly the alley-oops to McGee, were off the target. Mistakes led to easy Kings points, and when Elfrid Payton made a bad pass, the Kings took advantage with a three on the other end. This pass led to a Donte DiVencienzo three-pointer:
Payton’s hilarious man. pic.twitter.com/MKOKRnC8xS— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) March 20, 2022
Midway through the second, the Kings found themselves up by 10 points.
The Kings came into the game with the league’s 23rd highest 3PT percentage. But you knew Sacramento was in the zone when former Phoenix Sun Damian Jones hit a three-pointer. The Kings were 8-of-13 from beyond the arc thanks to his hit.
Phoenix upped their defensive energy in the third quarter, forcing 5 turnovers in the period. On the other hand, they struggled to execute on offense, missing many layups and failing to convert those opportunities into points as they converted those 5 TO’s into 7 points.
Devin Booker has now reached his career high steals (72) and blocks (25) in a single season… in his least amount of games played too pic.twitter.com/1PGow1Pusy— (@AaryanS19) March 20, 2022
The Kings shot 11-of-19 (57.9%) from deep and were +15 from beyond the arc. 8 different players made a three for the team. Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes both had 10 points, Sabonis added 8 boards, and the Kings’ bench outscored Phoenix 23-15. Ayton led all Suns’ scorers with 10.
Kings 59, Suns 49 at the half.
Halftime: SAC 59, PHX 49— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) March 20, 2022
Ayton: 10 Pts, 5 Reb, 5-6 FG
Booker: 8 Pts, 3 Ast, 4-8 FG
Bridges: 9 Pts, 6-6 FT
Sabonis: 10 Pts, 8 Reb
SAC: 11-19 3P; PHX: 6-14 3P
Devin Booker picked up his fourth foul with 10:40 left in the third quarter after receiving two early fouls in the second half. With 10:31 remaining, Deandre Ayton’s fourth foul was called. Because the team was down 14, Monty Williams decided to keep both players in.
Jae Crowder hit the floor in pain after landing on Justin Holiday’s foot following a three-point attempt. No foul or review occurred.
Jae Crowder goes down in pain after an awkward landing. pic.twitter.com/V8nfcBHQOb— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) March 20, 2022
The Suns responded with an 8-0 run, but cutting the lead to 5 was cut short when Harrison Barnes attacked the rim and drew foul number five on Deandre Ayton with 4:58 left in the third. Phoenix did what they could to keep their cool despite the whistle disparity that benefited the Kings. The Suns were called for 10 fouls to the Kings 5 in the quarter.
Devin Booker played pissed, seeing as the ticky-tack fouls appeared to be going one way. He used it as fuel and, despite having four fouls, stayed in and began cooking in the period. He shot 6-of-9 from the field for 19 points in the quarter.
Devin was hit with foul number 5 when DiVincenzo played aggressive off-ball defense on him and, as Booker tried to free himself from the contact, was called for an offensive foul. Monty Williams attempted to call a timeout to review the call, but the officials denied the request.
The Suns outscored the Kings 34-28 in Q3. But they lost Jae Crowder, Booker and Ayton were on the bench with 5 fouls, and trailed 87-83.
Phoenix earned their first lead with 11:14 left in the fourth on a four-point-play by Landry Shamet, 89-87, but Davian Mitchell tied the game on free throws at the other end following JaVale McGee’s 5th foul. That’s right, 3 players with 5 fouls with 11 left in the game.
Suns depth will be tested today. Three guys with five fouls, lost Jae Crowder to an injury, and CP3/CP15/Cam Johnson are all out.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) March 20, 2022
If the Suns wanted win number 58, it’d be on the backs of the bench guys.
The back-and-forth ride of the fourth quarter was punctuated by numerous moments. Landry Shamet three-pointers. Sabonis attacking the interior. Davian Mitchell from deep. Mikal Bridges’ steals.
Booker and Ayton returned to the game with 5:14 left and a one-point deficit.
Domantas Sabonis went to the locker room after bumping knees with Mikal Bridges.
The 50/50 balls fell into the hands of the kings down the stretch, leading to second chance points for the Kings during vital moments. Down three, Landry Shamet drove to the hoop for a surprising dunk.
Deandre Ayton picked up his sixth foul attempting to corral an offensive board with 1:01 left in the game, ending his night with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He pushed Damian Jones in the back, who hit 1-of-2 free throws and put the Kings up 2 with a minute to go.
JaVale McGee tied the game with a pair of free throws following a foul Trey Lyles.
With 8.3 second sleft, driving to his right, Devin Booker splashed a 19-footer to take the lead. It was his first two points of the fourth quarter.
THE FRANCHISE PLAYER. pic.twitter.com/Hm4xFOXmfB— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) March 21, 2022
Davian Mitchell answered with his 22nd point, a layup on the other end, blowing by Torrey Craig, with 2.8 seconds left. Devin Booker had a good look at a game-winner from beyond the arc, but missed the shot.
Overtime it is.
The Suns are head to OT. It is their second time playing bonus basketball, having defeated the Blazers 111-107 on December 14.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) March 21, 2022
Kings’ rookie Davian Mitchell became the offense for their team in OT. With Sabonis out, Mitchell was the primary scorer, and he tied a career high by scoring 26 points.
With 2:32 left, JaVale McGee, who had 6 points in OT, fouled out. The following play saw Booker drive to the basket and draw a foul on Trey Lyles. The Kings’ faithful began the, “refs, you suck” chant. I couldn’t agree with them more.
Devin Booker joined the list of players who would not finish the game with 50.9 seconds left, drawing his sixth foul on a great head-bob by Lyles. On the next play, a Jones putback gave the Kings a 121-120 lead.
Just so we all know exactly what Lauren Holtkamp saw when she blew her whistle.— SoSaysJ(ae) (@SoSaysJ) March 21, 2022
What a moron. pic.twitter.com/vCdbdQ9r7I
Landry Shamet responded with a massive three-point hit, putting the team up by 2 points, and giving him 21 points on the day, including 5-of-9 from deep. The next possession was a short-armed jumper by Harrison Barnes that Torrey Craig deterred, and then consumed the rebound.
Mikal Bridges made his 27th point on the back end of the two free throws – he missed the first – after a foul by Jones. That put the Suns up 3 with 17.1 to play. The Kings inbounded the ball to Jones, a 72% free throw shooter, and put him at the line. He hit 1-of-2.
The Suns snagged the rebound, pushed the ball up the court, and Torrey Craig put the exclamation point on the game.
Suns win, 127-124.
On Wednesday, the Suns will face the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Twin Cities. The Wolves will be a difficult team to beat. But that’s a different story for another day.