The Phoenix Suns are trying to play their way out of a funk, as they started the season with a defensive intensity that helped them look like a playoff team to some.
Then the return of center De’Andre Ayton from his suspension and the teams play has not been the same.
Figuring out how to incorporate Ayton has been a problem hard to figure out, rotations and starting line-ups by Head Coach Monty Williams have not quite worked to the teams advantage as of yet.
The last lost was the one that this team may have hit rock bottom, as they had a 21 point lead in the second half and lose by 11 to the Sacramento Kings.
After facing many questions for that game collapse Friday night, the team found themselves in the middle of that crossroads again.
Having the lead by double digits in the second half, and allowed the shorthanded Orlando Magic to make a run that took away their lead and left the Suns thinking here we go again trying to figure out how to close out games.
Then rising super star Devin Booker’s play says not this time, as he stepped up to the pressure and leads the Suns to the much needed victory.
But it was not easy at all.
Down the stretch of the fourth quarter the team turned the ball over and made bad passes and rushed shot attempts, seemed to lose their composure because of the pressure from the Magic. So much so that Suns players were starting to scream at each other trying to figure it out.
Orlando’s center Nikola Vucevic knocked down two three’s, and the last one put the Magic up four points 94-90.
Then the Suns had to dig deep defensively and the Vucevic three pointer was the last basket the Magic would score for the game within the final two minutes of the game.
Suns defense turned up to the level it was at the beginning of the year and this time it was with the number one draft pick overall a year ago De’Andre Ayton contributing from a defensive standpoint.
Ayton did a marvelous job of moving his feet and staying down on jump shooters and disrupted a few shots down the stretch, and set the tone for the well deserved All-Star Devin Booker to finish the game.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 11, 2020
Booker hit a three to bring the team within one point 94-93, then played some excellent defense on the taller Vecevic in post and caused a turnover, then got in the passing lane of Markel Fultz and took to a one man fast break stopping in transition and drained another three pointer.
That was a move of not letting this team loose that game, and great effort on the defensive end that kept the magic under 40% shooting and under their scoring average winning the game 98-94.
Suns have to keep this intensity play style going to have a chance to make a run at the final spots in the western playoff standings.