The Phoenix Suns earned something that I typically avoid and despise handing out: a moral victory. Yes, they earned it. Going on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks and putting up the fight they did on a nationally televised primetime game tells you all you need to know about the DNA of this team.
“You play to win the game.” The Suns certainly didn’t play like a team with any other goal in mind, even down Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Cam Johnson.
i mean am i allowed to be impressed by a team who lost because i am— Khris Wobbleton (@WorldWideWob) March 6, 2022
Phoenix was outshot at the free-throw line 29-to-11 and outrebounded 48-to-27. That’s the game right there.
"The pattern that we're having to deal with from a free throw perspective is just getting old" - Monty Williams— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) March 6, 2022
- Deandre Ayton — 30 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 14-19 FG.
- Cam Payne — 23 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 9-19 FG.
- Landry Shamet — 17 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 3-6 3PFG.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo — 19 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, 8-13 FG.
- Khris Middleton — 44 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 16-27 FG.
The Suns let it fly early and often to start the game, as their first *4 field goals were all made three-pointers followed by a three-point play from Jae Crowder. Unfortunately for Phoenix, the Bucks matched their offensive output early, making it a 15-15 tie heading into the first timeout break with 7:01 remaining in the opening quarter.
*they later changed one of those threes to a long two-point field goal.
Deandre Ayton is living his best life with the substitute teacher in. Gets it at the top. This is supposed to be a swing/handoff. Instead it's a 3 ball. pic.twitter.com/J8MwRvqoKC— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) March 6, 2022
Phoenix’s offense was off to a torrid start, connecting on 52% of their shots in the first quarter, taking a 33-30 lead into the 2nd.
Landry Shamet provided a nice offensive punch, filling in the starting lineup for the shorthanded Suns. He put up 14 first-half points on just 7 shots.
Deandre Ayton (along with Giannis and Middleton) led all scorers at the half with 17 points on 8-12 FG to go with 4 rebounds. He looked engaged early and often throughout this one.
Milwaukee closed the first half strong on a 9-2 run, cutting Phoenix’s lead to just 3 after they were trailing by as many as 10.
Phoenix led 63-60 at the half.
The Bucks came out strong to start the second half, but Phoenix continued to throw punches and hang around. The back and forth affair hit the score of 71-71 with 7:11 remaining in the third.
Ayton came out the gates continuing his strong start, scoring 6 points in the first six minutes. Landry Shamet drilled a three to extend the lead to four (76-72) which led to a Milwaukee timeout.
One possession at a time.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 6, 2022
One bucket at a time.
One three at time.
Stay in it. pic.twitter.com/UBbMxqs7Hy
Mikal Bridges started off 0-for-5 from the field and didn’t score his first basket until 4:40 remaining in the third quarter.
The story of the game was that it felt like Phoenix should be leading by double digits for the first three quarters, but their lack of rebounding killed them. The second-chance points killed the Suns’ chances of extending their lead.
Phoenix is getting outrebounded by 16 and has 10 less FTA's than the Bucks and are still leading.— Zona (@ZonaHoops_) March 6, 2022
Gotta eliminate those 2nd chance points.
After three quarters of play, Milwaukee took a one-point lead into the 4th, 91-90.
Phoenix continued to show a tremendous amount of fight in the 4th, extending their lead to 103-98 after a Mikal Bridges triple, which forced Bud to call a timeout.
Mikal Bridges started to heat up in the second half, along with Payne. The Bucks answered every punch Phoenix threw their way, though, hitting nearly every shot they took the second the Suns started to create just a bit of separation.
Milwaukee closed the game doing what they do best — crashing the boards, playing with physicality, and getting to the line.
There were some questionable calls down the stretch, including a blatant push-off by Middleton that was ruled a foul on Crowder, but the Bucks sealed the deal in the final five minutes, taking advantage of a Suns team without any closers on the court.
Star of the Game
Deandre Ayton — 30 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 14-19 FG
Phoenix Suns @ Orlando Magic — 5:00 PM AZ time