The Phoenix Suns did something Thursday night that was unthinkable and yet absolutely typical at the same time. The struggling, young Suns team found themselves ahead by as many as 22 points to the now 7-4 Boston Celtics. It was certainly a tale of two halves as the Suns imploded on their home court, allowing Boston to score 65 points in the second half to force overtime, where Boston would take the win, scoring 16 points. Amazingly, the Suns had a 96.3% win probability with 1:37 left in the 4th quarter, leading 97-89 at that time.
Many followers of this game couldn’t believe the score, including a very skeptical Charles Barkley:
Chuck had to capture this special moment 😂📸 pic.twitter.com/OGaZ4hCRQs
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 9, 2018
Devin Booker led the team in scoring with 38 points and 9 assists while TJ Warren was close behind with 29 points and 7 rebounds. Deandre Ayton had another double-double, scoring 14 points and 10 rebounds. For the Celtics, Kyrie Irving led the team with 39 points and 7 rebounds. It was the help from Boston’s bench that set this game apart. Marcus Morris had 17 points with Terry Rozier adding 10 points of his own. The entire Suns’ bench only scored 10 points. Devin Booker spoke to Fox Sports about the disappointing loss:
“We just fell apart down the stretch. … If you blow a 16-point lead in 5 minutes, a lot has to go wrong.”
Certainly the biggest concern for the Suns has to be their lack of defense. Phoenix had no answer for anything Boston wanted to do in the second half. Anytime you allow a team to come back from a 22-point deficit, the defensive scheme is always going to come into question. But when you specifically look into transition defense, it always comes down to the effort. Boston had 16 points off of fast breaks, an area that has plagued the Suns for a very long time.
Additionally, Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported that Suns coach Igor Kokoskov instructed the players to foul on the final possession, which would have helped preserve the lead. The young Suns were unable to foul, leading to a game-tying 3-pointer by none other than former Sun, Marcus Morris. This team is going to have to learn a lot of difficult lessons in its’ youth, but this one certainly leaves many fans frustrated.
The Suns travel to New Orleans Saturday in hopes that they can take away as many positives from a game that they let slip away.