Peaches. That is what Georgia is known for. The Phoenix Suns on Friday night? Everything wasn’t peaches for Phoenix as, in their first meeting against the Atlanta Hawks this season, they lost 129-120.
Kevin Durant had 35 points, but Trae Young’s 32 points and 15 assists, coupled with 23 bench points from Bogdan Bogdanovic and 22 points from Dejounte Murray, were too much for Phoenix to overcome. The Suns allowed 17 three-pointers and shot themselves in the foot again, committing 17 turnovers that led to 21 Atlanta points.
The Suns are now 28-21 and 3-3 on their seven-game road trip.
The Suns opened up the game attacking the interior like they did against the Brooklyn Nets, utilizing Jusuf Nurkic and his size to their advantage. In doing so, the offensive rebounding-minded Clint Cappella got hit with two early fouls. This is key, as he is the leading force behind the Hawks being the top offensive-rebounding team in the NBA.
We were treated to two transition Kevin Durant slam dunks, both of which he extended the ball, far away from his body, and the rim, and jammed it home.
The Hawks play with the fifth-highest pace in the NBA, and midway through the first quarter you could see them begin to get out and run, both off missed shots and made ones. They were focused on trying to hustle the Suns' first-team unit.
Phoenix didn’t help themselves as they began to turn the ball over as well, allowing the Hawks to develop an early four-point lead. 6 in the first which led to seven points for the Hawks.
Trae Young was taking deeeep three-pointers. And making them. The All-Star snub ended the first with 11 points and 3 assists.
Trae's first few minutes:— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) February 3, 2024
Steal & score pic.twitter.com/wCzWaUiZ17
Devin Booker led the Suns in scoring with 9 points, but Phoenix trailed 33-30 after one.
The second quarter opened, and Bradley Beal, who is dealing with a nasal fracture, was raked across the face by an Onyeka Okongwu. He was visibly frustrated and said a couple of words that weren’t appropriate for network television.
Bradley Beal taking a hard shot to his broken nose in Atlanta but staying in the game. pic.twitter.com/3SlX6F50h3— Mark McClune (@MarkMcClune) February 3, 2024
Bogdan Bogdanovich began to heat up in the second quarter, hitting three three-pointers early in the quarter while Trae Young was on the bench. He has 12 points and 3 assists, which helped the Hawks open up an 8-point lead.
A 15-5 run by Atlanta pushed their lead to 11 points as Phoenix had no answer for, well, anyone. Through the scoring barrage, Saddiq Bey twisted his ankle. He would not return.
Phoenix had a late flurry with an 8-0 run, however, and closed the Hawks' lead to 3 at the half. 66-63 after two.
The three-ball was flying early and often in the third for Atlanta is Trae Young continued his scorching hot shooting from deep. Devin Booker fought back, however, scoring nine points in the first four minutes of the period, keeping them close.
The Suns spent the third quarter trying to break through and get a lead. Every time that they would get close, getting to within one point, the Hawks would respond on the other end of the floor.
It wasn’t until 3:35 left in the quarter that the Suns finally did just that, taking an 88-86 lead over the Hawks.
Alanata kept chucking three-pointers, and to their credit, they kept making them. The Suns' perimeter defense was once again not good, allowing players like Bogdanovic to be wide-open. And players like him are open, they’re gonna hit them. Especially at home.
The Hawks closed on a 7-0 run and led by 3 after one, 3 after two, and 5 after three. 100-95 entering the fourth.
The Hawks opened on an 8-4 run because every opponent opens on a run against the Suns in the fourth. 3 turnovers in the first 3 minutes of the period. Typical Q4 Suns.
I mean it's pretty simple...if you keep turning it over and you can't get stops you can't really compete— Suns tragic... (@icarus_boy) February 3, 2024
If Phoenix wanted to win, they’d have to come back from 10 down in the fourth, as Trae Young hit his 7th three-point to extend the lead to 121-111 with 5 minutes left.
The Suns' response? Small ball time with KD, who had 29 points when the switch was made, at the five. It didn’t work. The Suns simply could not get stops, and the Hawks kept exploiting a weak Suns’ D.
The Suns wrap up their long and winding road trip in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. It will be the first game back for Bradley Beal, who spent his last 11 seasons playing for the Wizards.
Landry Shamet revenge game downloading? Tune in on Sunday. See you then Bright Side.