A flight across the country, an early game, a third straight game with a new starting lineup. No Devin Booker, and still no Bradley Beal are all things that are going to make a team struggle, which the Phoenix Suns did today.
In a bumpy, inefficient, contest, the Phoenix Suns played like the worse team, and it was reflected in the win-loss column with them dropping their third straight game, 112-100, to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Suns are now 2-4 on the year and has a trip to the Detroit Pistons tomorrow for another early game.
With Devin Booker out, Eric Gordon took control of a lot of the point guard duties. He and Durant had a nice two-man game going early on with them scoring 15 straight points early on.
Jusuf Nurkic’s impressive playmaking skills continued to be on display. Finding the open man, and acting as a tertiary playmaker for KD and Gordon amid the injuries to Beal and Booker.
It took almost 11:30 of game time for Phoenix to get a basket from someone other than Nurkić, KD, and Gordon, but Jordan Goodwin’s free throw and then buzzer-beater to end the quarter limited Philadelphia’s lead to just one, 25-24.
The offense looked discombobulated at times, especially when Durant was on the bench. Joel Embiid entered the game with both of them out about halfway through the second quarter and at the next stoppage of play, both Durant Nurkić re-entered the game.
Kelly Oubre Jr.’s alley-oop energized the crowd as well as Philadelphia, leading to their first double-digit lead of the day but shortly after, Durant went to work, scoring a quick six points, truncating the Philly lead to four.
After a sloppy, disorganized half, Phoenix trailed by just seven, 52-45. Durant’s 14 after two along with Nurkić and Gordon’s combined 16 made up two-thirds of the squad's points. Phoenix shot a measly 16/48 from the field to start and 5/20 from three.
Drew Eubanks started the second half for Phoenix in place of Jusuf Nurkić, who was not on the team’s bench to start the third but returned to action later in the quarter.
The Sixers wasted no time out of the gate to get going from three. Joel Embiid and former Suns De’Anthony Melton and Kelly Oubre Jr. all hit triples, ballooning their lead to 12, causing Frank Vogel to take a timeout.
Embiid threw down a monstrous slam on Eubanks that riled up a Philadelphia crowd that was then simmered down after Durant threw down his own jam.
The offense continued to look stagnant in the none Durant minutes, but somehow somehow, the Suns trailed by just five heading into the final frame, 80-75.
With limited offensive help, Kevin Durant tried to single-handedly will Phoenix to victory, getting to the line profusely and dissecting everything that the Sixer defense threw at him, but Philadelphia kept up with KD and kept their lead hovering around six to 10 points for a lot of the start of the fourth.
As the quarter went on, Philadelphia started to pull away, getting up by as much as 18 and winning 112-100.
Durant finished with 31, Eric Gordon had 13, and Jusuf Nurkić added 11. Whether Devin Booker or Bradley Beal is in the lineup, the Suns need to find a way to play better on offense as a unit to achieve their long-term goals.
Another early start for Phoenix tomorrow, where they will travel to the midwest and face the Detroit Pistons at 12:00 p.m. Arizona time. Frank Vogel said he’s “hopeful” Devin Booker will play in his hometown tomorrow, but only time will tell.