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Suns vs. Wizards Final Score: Phoenix holds on against scrappy Wizards winning 112-108

Devin Booker put up 26 points and helped the Suns snap their two-game losing streak, beating the Washington Wizards 112-108 on Sunday night in what was truly a battle to the end.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Phoenix Suns Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

It was not easy, but the Phoenix Suns were able to take down the Washington Wizards Sunday night in their signature El Valle jerseys and on the matching court. A much-needed win for the squad that had lost six of their last eight games heading into the contest. It was especially significant for Devin Booker, who was able to turn around his slow start to lead the Suns to a victory with 27 points in conjunction with Kevin Durant who added 28 on about 46% shooting.

The four-win Wizards did not go away shyly however, continually scrapping led by a monstrous effort from Daniel Gafford who had 26 points and 17 rebounds. The Wizards’ supporting cast also were prominent in this one including Tyus Jones who had 22/11/6stls and Kyle Kuzma who put up a stat line of 17/7/2.

A major reason why the Suns did win was containing Jordan Poole, who went 5/17 from the field (2/9 from three). Although, defense was not a major plus for Phoenix in this one all the way through.

In a game that saw the Suns shoot an abysmal 22.6% from three, Phoenix used a combination of driving to the rim leading to free throws and increased pressure on the perimeter to crawl themselves back from a deficit that stood over 10 for the majority of the game. A couple of huge threes and challenges (not to mention one dunk of the year candidate by KD), kept the Wizards at bay and allowed for the Suns to escape with a narrow victory.

Although it is not what the team is looking for to get themselves out of the slump they are in, a win in any capacity is nice to take forward into the season. Especially after all of the news surrounding Bradley Beal and overall team morale being at a season-low, I think the Suns will be satisfied with adding another tally to the win column.

A major part of this win unironically is simply due to the Suns having future Hall of Famers, and the Wizards not quite having that type of capacity of player on the roster (not discounting anyone). This Statmuse graphic exemplifies perfectly the performances of the self-named “36 Unbothered” duo in cartoonish wizard hats to complete the recap.

A loss here would have been devastating for all of the Suns’ stakeholders, so even though Washington has not found much success this season, it is important to note how high the parity level is in the NBA and how any team can beat one another in any given night.

Did the Wizards expose a lot of the Suns’ major flaws including paint defense and a knack of turning over the ball? Absolutely. But better to learn those lessons and make the necessary adjustments after a win in my opinion.

Now to go into the game to see how this game unfolded:


Game Flow

First Half

The Wizards clearly showed why they have been a statistical Top-10 in offense this season, quickly extending a prominent lead in a balanced attack from a combination of all five starters scoring. This sent the Suns on their heels and forced KD to respond by taking the majority of the shot attempts in accumulating 9 quick points in 8 minutes.

Washington got up by 10+, but the Suns were able to respond by generating turnovers, forcing 4 through the 3:30 mark. Wizards were continually able to knock down open looks from three in juxtaposition from the Suns who numerously got clean looks and failed to convert on the chance.

Outside of Kevin Durant of course, who like usual presents too many matchup issues for any defense to even attempt to account for, the offense severely sputtered early in the game.

Luckily. Eric Gordon was able to pop off the bench and instantly sink a triple. His return is immensely valuable to a team that is struggling to match the offensive firepower of opposing teams. This is especially true for a team that is built around scoring juggernauts even if one is missing.

Suns cut it to four thanks to a vintage Kevin Durant quarter, who has now put his point total to 11 points on a crisp 5-9 shooting. Meanwhile, for the Wizards, Tyus Jones led the scoring attack with 7 of his own.

Vogel sent a larger lineup on the floor post-timeout with Durant, Metu, and Eubanks looking to secure rebounding assumingly predicting a lot of missed shots on the night. Gordon got the initial benefit from this, as he abused his smaller matchup straight into a dribble drive straight to the cup. Eubanks proved to be huge in a night where the Suns actually were favored on the glass.

However, turnovers continued to plague the Suns, especially in the second unit as Jordan Goodwin struggles with taking care of the basketball. This development could have prompted the Suns to sign 4-year guard Theo Maledon to a 2-way contract earlier today.

The Wizards lead the Suns 29-21 to end the quarter, and in a game riddled with mistakes, the Suns somehow bled the most into this development.

To start the second quarter, a similar lineup presented itself except captained by Devin Booker. Gordon continued to thrive, especially working as an off-ball guard. He even managed to get into the weeds of the passing lanes and intercept a pass from the Wizards.

A Jordan Goodwin lob against his former club to Drew Eubanks was enough for Wes Unseld Jr. forcing a timeout with 9:24 left in the 1st half. Gordon poetically brought his point total to 7 in just seven minutes of play in his return to the lineup during this time.

Tyus Jones continued his hot start as well, knocking in a triple coming out of the break with no other defender around him. The Suns' perimeter defense continues to expose its malleability, which allowed Washington to keep a comfortable distance from Phoenix.

Chimezie Metu made his mark on the game intercepting an errand pass and taking it all the way to the cup and finishing the fastbreak opportunity off the turnover. His growth this season has not gone unnoticed, as Vogel seems to have stapled him into the permanent rotation in some role capacity.

Meanwhile, the Wizards continued to prey on the Suns despite their shooting struggles, as Forward Kyle Kuzma heated up and Phoenix offered little to no resistance regardless of where the Wizards chose to shoot from.

Devin Booker finished the quarter strong with 3 field goals and an assist to close the quarter, but even that was not enough to close the lead to single digits before half.

Kuzma finished the quarter with a stat line of 12/5/2 in a half where Washington led as much as 16 and concluded up by 12 with a halftime score of 58-46. Meanwhile, the star of the show was Tyus Jones who had an electric 15 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals on good efficiency.

To sum up the half for the Suns, they just frankly looked lost. No synergy, communication, or even atmosphere in the Footprint Center as if all of the energy was taken out of the arena. The four-win Wizards had a hold on the game, as the Suns were not only letting them beat them, but were also beating themselves in the process.

Washington had three scorers with double-digit points including Tyus Jones, Kyle Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford.

Somehow after losing the last 6 of 8 games, the team had hit a new low. Losing Bradley Beal (again) for an extended period did not help this case as well, but it was something beyond the injury that made the first half of this contest so devastating to watch.

A majorly alarming statistic is that the Suns shot an egregious 2-19 from three in comparison to the 8-23 by the Wizards. Even despite the return of Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen, the Suns just could not seem to find the bottom of the net.

As a whole the team was not locked in, which needed to change dramatically.

Second Half

The Suns started the half with the same starters and got some rhythm assembled during the early minutes of the 3rd quarter. Fouling continued to be a major factor allowing the Wizards free points at the line, but shots were finally falling including a much-needed three from Nassir Little to break the drought.

However, the defensive side of the ball outside of fouls continued to be an issue. Lost rotations leading to open threes, and a lack of adamant perimeter defense allowed the Wizards to drive through the lane at ease.

The Suns were winning the rebounding advantage at that point, but the Wizards were neutralizing this with their production at the stripe and overall shooting efficiency from the field. Kuzma checked out of the game with about 8 minutes left in the 3rd, but not before he scored 17 on the night, and the lead still maintained a double-digit margin.

Another Jordan Poole layup at the rim warranted a timeout from Frank Vogel, clearly unhappy at how vulnerable the paint defense was. The lead remained at 14 with 6:50 left in the quarter.

The Wizards continued their hot streak with Bilal Coulbaily hitting a triple straight out of the timeout. The Suns had yet to crack into the lead since the first half, with the Wizards shooting an efficient 47% from the field.

Phoenix just continued to be stagnant on both sides of the ball, failing to convert easy opportunities and allowing the Wizards to run whatever offense at their own pace.

Lethal three-point marksman Corey Kispert knocked down a deep triple to end the shot clock with 3:34 left in the 3rd to bring the lead back to 11 for the DC Dribblers. The Suns continued to float around, but just could not make the jump to scratch away at the sustained margin of difference.

That is until Kevin Durant got going including a fading baseline mid-range jumper to bring his point total to 24 on the night. KD had 11 in the 3rd quarter, which was a major reason why Phoenix was in the vicinity of the game at all.

However, Daniel Gafford who had a phenomenal night continued his perfect night going 5-5 from the field with adding in 5 free throws making a home in the paint. Gafford won his matchup over Nurkic with ease despite Nurk winning the rebound battle.

Both teams continued to trade baskets heading into the 4th quarter, however, the difference was the Wizards were converting from three. After a few stops from the Suns, Kevin Durant was able to find his PNR-mate Drew Eubanks on a lob to cut the lead to 8. A major play to halt the momentum the Wizards continued to maintain up until that point.

Washington held this lead despite a couple of good looks from the Suns from three to wrap up the quarter. This included what would have been a poetic make from Jordan Goodwin at the buzzer. Phoenix continued to struggle from downtown going only 4-24 (16.7%) through three quarters.

The fourth quarter saw the Suns come into their own, starting with Drew Eubanks who added two buckets including a crafty spin out of the post to free himself at the rim. Eubanks’ contribution to what was a disappointing Nurkic night outside of rebounding was welcomed greatly.

Devin Booker reached the 24-point mark to begin the quarter after a signature mid-range jumper. Book had a rough first half, but now was sitting at a 24/6/4 statline. This included a top-of-key three-point shot that cut the Wizards’ lead to just one.

The momentum shifted at this point, as the crowd in the Footprint Center finally showed life after a team-wide resurgence.

Gafford out of the timeout continued his dominance inside with an easy floater over Nassir Little and then forced a travel call on Drew Eubanks on the other side. He then followed this with a putback a few plays later.

Devin Booker gave the Suns their first lead of the night at 96-95 with another three, in which he had completely transformed his performance into leading the charge for the comeback.

A Tyus Jones floater put the Wizards up one with 6 minutes left in the game, which was quickly overturned after Nurkic went to a spin sending Daniel Gafford to the floor for an easy lay.

The game continued its progression into being chippy, as Devin Booker and Kyle Kuzma collided on a loose ball dive attempt. Following this, Jordan Goodwin proved why he thrives in these types of games being active on the boards and creating second-chance points off a Suns’ miss.

Speaking of boards, even though Nurkic had struggled from the offensive end, he had a game-high 17 rebounds with 4:26 left in the contest. Not too shabby from the Bosnian Beast in controlling the rebounding battle.

The Suns were able to extend the lead to five after a quick timeout from Coach Unseld standing at 102-97 Suns. This run grew to a 28-8 run after Grayson Allen hit a clutch three to push the lead to 8.

Washington continued their approach of going right at Jusuf Nurkic in getting to the line and pressuring Nurk into foul trouble. Gafford had given the Suns issues in the paint the entire night, with no real resistance to deter his production.

Gafford was a problem on the offensive rebounds as well, grabbing a miss over Nurkic and putting it back up to put his statline on the night at 22 points and 13 rebounds shooting 80% from the field.

The new Suns’ lead continued to dwindle after an and-1 goaltending call that was confirmed brought it down to three. This expanded after Devin Booker hit yet another huge mid-range shot, but the interior defense continued to be picked apart after a wide-open Jordan Poole layup.

Gafford continued his huge night in securing an offensive putback after no Suns defenders put a body on him to prevent the easy second-chance conversion. This was directly after Nurkic committed an offensive foul and turned the ball over.

What followed was easily the greatest moment of the night for the Suns, in which Kevin Durant took a Devin Booker feed and went directly down the lane to crush an and-one jam right over Daniel Gafford for a monster poster.

An absolutely incredible play to allow the Suns to go up by four with less than 30 seconds left. KD continues to prove why he is one of the all-time greats with pulling off plays such as these at 35 years-old.

The Suns also were perfect on challenges, which took away a foul from Washington and gave Phoenix the ball down the stretch. At this point, the game turned into a free throw competition, in which Eric Gordon made 1 of 2 to push the lead to four.

After a Wizards miss, all of the Valley could finally breathe as the buzzer hit zero seconds remaining. The Suns escaped this one with a win, but there are plenty of notes that should be taken from this game for the team to carry forward, especially against future tougher matchups.

Suns win, 112-108.


Up Next

The Phoenix Suns at a record of now (14-12) go on a two-game road trip starting with the Portland Trail Blazers (6-18) on their home floor on Tuesday at 8 PM AZ time. The Suns have won their previous two meetings versus Deandre Ayton and the Blazers this year, but it will always be an entertaining matchup with Dominayton vs. the Suns.

Suns will be looking to build on the home win after still being below .500 in the Footprint Center this season. In fact, the Suns actually have a better record on the road at 7-4. The team will have time Monday to review the flaws that were on display against the Wizards to perfect down the line.

Hoping that Devin Booker will continue his leadership and takeover capabilities and carry them into Tuesday, as his efforts tonight did not go unnoticed by Coach Vogel who was the biggest advocate of Book doing whatever it took to turn the game around towards the Suns’ favor down the stretch.

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