The Phoenix Suns are 1-1 after facing a pair of top-tier Western Conference foes on the road without Bradley Beal for both and Devin Booker for one.
As ugly as the fourth quarter was last night, all things considered, you’ll take it.
Yes, there is a world where they are 2-0 right now. No, it’s not worth stressing about. This team still has a lot to figure out and it’s early. It’s October 27th.
#1) Kevin Durant is still HIM
Last night was an absolute masterclass from Durant. This performance alone should erase any doubt that he still doesn’t have “it”. He was put in an unfavorable situation without the Suns’ two primary ball handlers. The Lakers sent a small army at him every time he touched the ball, and it simply did not matter.
His patience stood out in a game where he took what the defense gave him early and let the game come to him naturally. Los Angeles was trying their best to play physical and make him uncomfortable, but he didn’t cave.
Final line: 39 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, +18
In a game Phoenix lost by five, Durant being plus-18 tells you everything you need to know about how things went.
One thing I really do not like early on is the heavy minutes for the 36-year-old Kevin Durant.
He has played 76 minutes in his first two games (38.0 mpg). The circumstances of being without key players in close games probably makes this an outlier, but I’d like to see that number creep down closer to the 32-24 per game.
#2) Jordan Goodwin and Josh Okogie are DOGS
These two can create a spark of fire ten feet underwater. The energy they have brought from the preseason through the first two games has been contagious and helped Phoenix form a bit of an identity on the defensive end. Toughness. Physicality. Diving for loose balls. Everything this team needs from its role players, and Vogel has to be pleased.
While they will not likely be counted on to play 30+ minutes each when Booker and Beal are in the lineup, they will be in integral part of the rotation without a doubt. Okogie’s four offensive rebounds are a testament to his tenacious activity on the glass.
Goodwin’s ability to provide active ball pressure and anticipate passes will make him a stocks machine.
These two are pests in the best way possible. Suns fans should be looking forward to watching them play alongside Booker and Beal, whenever that may be.
- Goodwin — 30 minutes, 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 6-15 FG, +8
- Okogie —33 minutes, 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 3-5 FG, +3
Jordan Goodwin pull-up three.— Zona (@AZSportsZone) October 27, 2023
#3) Life will be hard without Booker and Beal
Captain obvious here reporting for duty. Phoenix can beat good teams without one of their big three healthy. When two of the three are down — especially when they are the primary ball handlers on a team lacking just that — it will be an uphill battle.
We already saw this firsthand with the Suns taking down the Warriors without Beal despite playing a sloppy game all-around. Come playoff time, it would be more than
The Suns played the first three quarters beautifully, building a 12-point lead heading into the final period. The 4th quarter was a different story... they just ran out of gas and were playing far too cautious instead of keeping their foot on the pedal.
Suns in 4th quarter tonight:— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2023
Kevin Durant (9 PTS, 4-11 FG)
Rest of team (2 PTS, 1-9 FG) pic.twitter.com/UPBpD1rsT6
Suns fans — what stands out to you after these first couple of games and what’re you looking forward to seeing on Saturday?