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Game Recap: Headband Booker leads Suns to sixth consecutive win over lottery bound Spurs, clinch playoff berth

Phoenix didn’t have much issue with the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns entered the final week of the regular season with a game against the San Antonio Spurs. On the final ORIGINATIV night — and the first time we’ve seen Kevin Durant in the City Edition threads — and they walked out with their sixth consecutive victory, defeating the Spurs by a score of 115-96.

The Suns are now 7-0 with Kevin Durant.

Phoenix was lead by the 27 points of Devin Booker in 33 minutes, who shot 9-of-21 from the field while sporting his headband. Bismack Biyombo, who had 10 points, led the Suns with 4 blocks; the team had 7 swats in total. Kevin Durant went 6-of-14 for 18 points, and Chris Paul added 22. Deandre Ayton had 19 and 11.

With the win, coupled with a loss by the New Orleans Pelicans, the Suns have locked up the fourth seed in the Western Conference. And they’ve officially clinched a playoff berth.

Per, the Suns have a 100% of finishing the 2022-23 season in that slot. That being said, will the Suns ease of the pedal for their remaining three games? Let’s hope not. 2021-22 PTSD remains.

Game Flow

First Half

Headband Booker made another appearance and began the game showcasing his ability to hit difficult shots. A cross-lane runner to his left? A fast break layup against three players? Book had the shots, and he was streaking around the Footprint Center in his turquoise uniform to put the Suns up early.

It was on.

Chris Paul, who scored a season-high 31 points in the Suns last meeting against the Spurs, popped three three-pointers early in the first. Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton did their part as well, contributing on all levels of the offense. Sure, it’s the Spurs, but it is the best that the Suns have looked with this starting five since Durant‘s acquisition.

The team scored 24 points in the first six minutes of the first quarter. The starting five combined for 11-of-14 shooting from the field, 78.6%, including 4-of-5 from deep.

First off the bench from Monty Williams was T.J. Warren, Torrey Craig, and Landry Shamet. As the season comes to an end, it will be interesting to see if Landry gets more playing time or if it will be Terrence Ross. These are the decisions that Monty Williams must navigate as he fine-tunes his lineups in preparation for the postseason.

The Suns dropped a season high 42 first quarter points behind Devin Booker’s 14.

Suns 42, Spurs 25.

Monty started Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Bismack Biyombo, Torrey Craig, and Terrence Ross in the second quarter. Again, the rotations or something we will continue to keep an ion as the season comes to an end.

Chris Paul, as Al McCoy called the game on the Bally Sports broadcast in the second quarter, gave the tenured broadcaster more reasons to say, “Shazam” as he hit his fourth three-pointer of the game early in the quarter. CP3 went 7-of-8 from the field in the first half, scoring 18 points.

The talent disparity was apparent, but Sam Antonio had no desire to go quietly into the night. These players are playing for more than the name on the front of the jersey, but for the name on the back. Julian Champagnie, a rookie from St. John’s, had 10 points off the bench in the first half.

Despite a late run by San Antonio — Phoenix was up 31 at one point — the Suns took an 18-point lead to the half, 69-51.

Second Half

KD and Booker came out firing in the third, but the Spurs quickly responded with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 13 points. A team that entered 25th in the league in three-point shooting knocked down five consecutive super shots, and before you know it, it was a 9-point game.

Much like the game against the undermanned Nuggets last week, the Suns reminded us that no lead is ever comfortable.

The Suns responded on the defensive end, highlighted by a Kevin Durant block, to regain control of the game. The defense led to offense, and after a 11-2 run, it felt that the Suns had weathered the San Antonio storm.

Booker had 11 points in the third quarter and was a stabilizing force for the Suns. The energy in which he’s playing is that of someone who exudes confidence, both in himself and in his team, as the playoffs loom. Headband or not, watch out.

After three quarters, Suns up 21, 97-76.

San Antonio opened with a 9-2 run, and the unit led by CP3 and KD is an area of opportunity for Phoenix. You don’t have to worry about your Hall of Famers, but the supporting cast around them needs to develop some confidence. It’s been quite some time since Terrence Ross has made a three-pointer, hasn’t it?

Their response? A fast break that resulted in a Torrey Craig slam.

Craig is starting to fit nicely into his role, after starting a career-high 59 games. He has returned to the bench since KD’s arrival and is once again finding his rhythm on both ends of the floor. He finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, as well as 10 rebounds. Quite possibly his best bench game of the year.

Malaki Branham led the way for the Spurs, scoring 21 points, with Tre Jones adding 20.

Phoenix had no issue closing the Spurs, holding closely to a 20-point lead throughout the fourth quarter. Final score?

Up Next

Three games left for the Suns, with their next one coming Thursday night at home against the Denver Nuggets. Will Jokic be playing? Or Murray? Or MPJ? Does Denver want to tip their hand prior to a potential second round matchup?

Tune in to find out.

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