It finally happened! Did the Big Three play their first game together? Yes! Did the Twins return to Phoenix for the first time? Yes! All in one game? Yes! On this eventful day at the Footprint Center, Suns fans got to see a glimpse of what having Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant on the floor together looks like, but it didn’t result in a W.
Sure, there was some bad and sad, but there was good, excitement, and a lot that should make Suns fans glad. More than anything though, the Big Three have now officially played a regular season game together, which in itself is a reason to celebrate.
In a 116-112, loss, the Suns have a lot to feel good about, but also tons that need to be fixed.
Before tip-off, the Suns played a touching tribute to the Twins, honoring them for their time in the Valley where they will never be forgotten.
Bradley Beal got heavily involved in his early minutes, making plays, penetrating the basket, and giving Durant and Booker more space to operate on the floor. Beal had a quick six points on ¾ shooting during his first stint on the game.
Kevin Durant struggled to start the contest, uncharacteristically missing his first three shots and going ⅓ from the line to start the first. As the quarter went on, the Slim Reaper started to get going, finishing with eight to end the first and had a vicious block on Mikal Bridges.
Despite being clobbered by Draymond Green a night before, Jusuf Nurkić had no issue being a presence on the boards early on, piling six in the first frame.
Phoenix was up 22-18 with 2:27 left in the first but were shut out out for the rest of the quarter, allowing the Nets to go on a 13-0 run to end the first. After 12, Brooklyn was up 31-22.
The Nets run continued when Cam Johnson hit two straight triples to start the quarter, but Devin Booker’s first basket ended Brooklyn’s 19-0 run. A Jordan Goodwin shot clock-beating jumper was the start of the Suns’ run to cut into the Brooklyn lead. Goodwin’s shot started a 15-5 run the next 3:04 of game time. Brooklyn wasn’t phased, however, Spencer Dinwiddie and Trendon Watford put in a few quick baskets, extending the Nets lead to 12, and causing Frank Vogel to call a timeout.
In the Big Three’s second stint together, Devin Booker started to heat up, hitting threes, getting to the charity stripe, and penetrating the lane. Booker finished with 16 to end the quarter, and 17 for the half.
DBook at half:— Booker Muse (@DevinBookerMuse) December 14, 2023
At the end of the half, Phoenix trailed 64-56.
Nassir Little started the second half, replacing Chimezie Metu.
The beginning of the third quarter was a portrayal of what the Big Three can do together when they are all on the floor together. All three were scoring early on, making plays for each other as well as for Little and Nurkić, consequently, Phoenix took their first lead since the first.
Jusuf Nurkić started to get in on the offensive parade, scoring 9 points in the third, but tough shot-making and lackluster Phoenix defense helped keep this game a close one heading into the fourth. 36 minutes down, Phoenix led 88-86.
Cam Thomas, like he’s prone to do, caught a heater to begin the final frame. He scored the Nets’ first 8 points of the game, leading to a Phoenix timeout and a Brooklyn lead. Dorian Finney-Smith, as he did all night, connected on tough baskets, keeping Phoenix alert defensively.
Strong Brooklyn offense to go along with subpar Phoenix defense left the Suns down 7 with less than 5 minutes to play.
The final few minutes of the game were tense and action-packed. Phoenix tried to keep up with the Nets but was not able to, Dinwiddie took over to end the game, leading to Brooklyn up 8 with less than 1:30 to play. The Suns quickly went on a 6-0 run, and with three seconds left, Cam Thomas went to the line where he hit two free throws, icing the game.
After a long, emotional, and exciting night, Phoenix had fallen, 116-112.
Booker finished with 34, Durant had 27, extending his streak of 25 or more to 19 straight games. Beal and Nurkić chipped in 14 and 15 respectively, with Nurkić chipping in 22 rebounds, a season-high and one off of his career high.
The Suns have a lot to look forward to but also a lot that needs to be corrected, including fourth-quarter defense.
The Suns will have just one night’s rest before hosting the Knicks, whom Phoenix played less than three weeks ago. Devin Booker hit a game-winning shot last time these two teams fared, we shall see what this matchup entails.