Luka Doncic did his job in the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Doncic had 45 points(one short of playoff career-high), 12 rebounds, and eight assists.
However, that was overshadowed by Deandre Ayton’s(12/20 FG) 25 points and eight rebounds and Devin Booker’s 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Suns had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Phoenix would lead from start to finish and defeat the Mavericks 121-114 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.
The Suns, who led by as many as 21 points in this one, have defeated the Mavs 10 straight times(regular season and playoffs combined).
Mavs head coach Jason Kidd liked what Doncic did, but according to him, Doncic needed more help.
“He got whatever he wanted,” Kidd said after the loss. “When you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also he got his teammates some great looks that we normally have made, I thought he played great. We didn’t play him the whole game. Again, in the fourth quarter, those guys started to get a rhythm and played harder, but I thought he played great.”
After three quarters, the Suns scored 96 points. In addition, they finished the game shooting 51% from the field. Doncic felt the team’s defense lost Game 1.
“I think our defense lost us the game tonight,” Doncic said. “I think our start on the defensive end was terrible, and we’ve got to change that. I know we can play way better defense, and I know we will.”
The Suns came out with a lot of energy in this one, and they used their size to punish the Mavs on the glass as they outrebounded Dallas 51-36. Against the Jazz, Dallas was able to take advantage of Rudy Gobert because he could not hurt them on the offensive end. However, Ayton can and did hurt the Mavs, which Booker discussed postgame.
“He’s a beast down there, and he proves it night-in and night-out,” Booker said of Ayton. “That’s what teams try to go to verses us, just have five guards out there and switch it one through five, and that’s his time to punish them.”
The Mavs clearly have had a hard time defeating the Suns as they haven’t beaten Phoenix since 2019. The Suns have the their number, but there’s hope. Dallas lost Game 1 to the Jazz last round and won four of the next five games in that series.
However, Dallas must be better defensively and get a little more from other players not named Luka Doncic.
-Shooting 51% in the win, Phoenix has now shot 50+ FG% in all seven of their playoff games this postseason. The seven consecutive games shooting 50+ FG% is a franchise postseason record.
-Chris Paul totaled 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight, to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. With this third assist tonight, Paul passed Tony Parker for fifth on the NBA’s all-time playoff assists list.
-Maxi Kleber added 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting tonight in 25 minutes off the bench for Dallas. Kleber knocked down a game-high five three- pointers on eight attempts in the game.
Great players do great things in the playoffs, and Chris Paul is a great player, and Sunday night in Game 1 of Phoenix’s first-round series against the Pelicans, that greatness was on full display.
Phoenix led 53-34 at the break, but the Pelicans outscored the Suns 37-25 in the third quarter and had some momentum going into the fourth, but then, the “CP3 Show” commenced.
The 12-time All-Star scored 19 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to go along with seven rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 110-99 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.
At age 37, Paul became the oldest player to record 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff game.
“Man, that is the CP3 Show,” Deandre Ayton said postgame. ‘We got a little taste of it.’
“Classic Chris,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said.
With Phoenix leading 80-73, Paul scored or assisted 19 straight points for the Suns to take complete control of the game.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul became the fifth player with ten career playoff games of 30 points and 10 assists, joining LeBron James (22), Michael Jordan (15), Jerry West (14), and Oscar Robertson (12)
“It’s just reading the game,” Paul said. “We watch games all day, every day. We got to watch all the games yesterday. We watched the games today. We know in the playoffs, teams aren’t going to lay down.”
Williams had more praise for his point guard.
“He’s not only a great point guard, but he’s a great basketball player,” Williams said.
After making the Finals last season, the goal for the Suns is an NBA title. Barring anything unforeseen, the Pelicans can’t defeat Phoenix. So, in reality, to avoid injuries, the Suns have to sweep this series to play as few games as possible as they look to win an NBA title.
On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns killed two birds with one stone in their 121-110 win over the Lakers. Phoenix eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention, and more importantly, the Suns picked up their 63rd win of the season, setting the franchise record for wins in a season.
The previous record of 62 wins occurred during the 1992-93 and 2004-05 seasons.
Suns head coach Monty Williams, who became the head man in 2019, helped spearhead the turnaround. Phoenix went from losing 63 games in the 2018-19 season to winning 63 games and possibly more this season.
“It started with the young guys we had that first year, the bubble, last year, and then the individual stuff that we’ve seen guys achieve along the way, and then tonight is unbelievably special for so many people,” Williams said post-game.
“Not just the organization, but the people in the city that have basically birthed the Suns. Everywhere I go, people talk about the Suns are their baby, and to have us playing this way, achieving this goal tonight is huge for the valley. It’s hard to put it into words, but we’re all pretty grateful, and we talk about celebrating everything, and there’s just so many people that have a huge part in this, from the players, who are the main cogs in it all, but in particular, ownership, James (Jones), but also people like Jay Gaspar and Denise Romero, who just have grown up in this organization and it’s special to see them excited about what we’re doing.”
Maybe the biggest reason for the turnaround in Phoenix was the acquisition of Chris Paul. None of this happens without CP3. Paul also became the first player in NBA history to be a part of four teams that set franchise records for wins, but for the 12-time All-Star, who helped lead the Phoenix to the NBA Finals last season, it’s all about winning a title.
“It’s all good and well,” Paul said. “It would be nice to put a championship with all that. That’s the goal; that’s what we’re working towards. I don’t take that lightly, though, because it’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of hard work that goes into year-in and year-out playing and competing. At the end of the day, you want to have a chance. You at least want to have a chance, and I’m grateful to be here with this group.”
Deandre Ayton was there for the 19-63 season, and he, like everybody else on the Suns, is happy to get to 63 wins.
“Me and Mikal (Bridges) were looking at each other four years ago, bro; we were at the bottom pit of the barrel,” Ayton said. “We almost thought we weren’t a part of the league. For a minute, I thought we were playing people to play us my rookie year, the way that we were losing. We here, man, and seeing all the fans and the community just so happy, just so supportive, all that helps.”
Winning 63 games is all well and good, but the Suns have to cap it off with a championship!
The Phoenix Suns continued their winning ways Thursday night as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-101 at Footprint Center.
Devin Booker scored a game-high 30 points, 15 of which came in the third quarter, to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
The Suns(26-5) extended their winning streak to five games, and also extended their home winning streak to 15.
After trailing by five in the third, Phoenix used a 28-10 run to take complete control of the game, and OKC never threatened after that.
Now, it’s onto their big Christmas Day showdown against the Warriors(26-6) at Footprint Center. The last time the Suns played on Christmas Day was back in 2009.
Many of Phoenix’s players have not experienced Christmas Day basketball, including Deandre Ayton and Cam Johnson, and both are super excited.
“I’m not going to lie, I feel like I should thank the NBA for gifting me with a Christmas gift of playing on Christmas Day,” Ayton, who added 19 points and 12 rebounds against OKC, said. “A lot of guys that aren’t playing on Christmas are going to be opening their gifts, probably working out, probably getting ready for the next game, but me, I got kids waking up to go see Deandre and the Phoenix Suns play. That’s an honor. You can’t take that for granted. Stuff like that is just hard work. People recognizing us, just winning and stuff like that, and this is the reward. We just have to be grateful and not take it for granted at all.”
Cam Johnson, who scored 21 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field, including a 5-of-5 from downtown against OKC, added: “I’ll be honest with you, I’m viewing it as my first time, ever in my life, playing a basketball game on Christmas—watched NBA games every Christmas since I was a little kid, just the opportunity to go and play in that game. I like the time of the game, 3 P.M.; I’m hoping it stays that way, we show up, get to it. It’s like a dream come true, playing on Christmas, getting out there, and I’m just super excited for that. Never mind whatever else might be going around, just excited to have that game.”
Phoenix is 1-1 against the Warriors this season, and both games had a playoff feel. According to Chris Paul, playing Golden State is a good test for the Suns.
“Playing against Golden State, they always make you think, playing against the Lakers, Milwaukee, all those good teams,” he said. “They’re going to make you think the game, so it’s always a good test for us because every team is different.”
Phoenix and Golden State are the two best teams in basketball, so Saturday’s game against the Warriors should be a lot of fun.
Watch below as Ayton talks win over OKC, playing Warriors on Christmas Day:
The Phoenix Suns concluded the month of November the way it started, with a win. Led by Deandre Ayton’s 24 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Paul’s 15 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and five steals, Phoenix defeated the Warriors 104-96 Tuesday night at FootPrint Center.
The rematch is Friday at Chase Center.
With the win, the Suns extended their winning streak to a league-best 17 games, tying the franchise record for the longest winning streak.
“It’s cool, man, Paul said about the winning streak. “You sort of forget about it because we just be hooping. We prepare for every game the same way, and when you do that, it’s about building habits. Like I said, third team, I’ve been on that won 17 in a row, and it’s a really good feeling. To go the whole month without any losses, regardless of who was on the schedule, that’s tough to do.”
Phoenix was 16-0 in November, and the last time they lost was on October 27 against Sacramento. In addition, at 18-3, this is the team’s best start to the season through the first 21 games matching the 2004-05 season. Furthermore, the Suns moved to 10-0 this season when playing an opponent with a record above .500.
Ayton has been with Phoenix through the tough times, including winning 19 games in the 2018-19 season. Last season, the Suns went to the Finals, and now they are tied with the Warriors for the best record in basketball after 21 games, and Ayton wants to keep on winning.
“We wanted to turn this thing around since we got here,” he said. “I wanted a winning legacy; I wanted to start a winning legacy in Phoenix. I think I’ve been saying that the whole time being here. Just having thee great pieces around us, we just have some young guys that know how to play basketball, but at the same time, we’re willing to take that constructive criticism, and not take it personal, but learn. That season where we only won 19 games, it wasn’t really no disappointment, it was just a lesson learned; that we never want to get back to that ever again, and that’s what we’re showing.”
Unfortunately, going forward, Phoenix might be without the services of Devin Booker, who left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. According to head coach Monty Williams, they will find out more about Booker’s health Wednesday.
For now, they celebrate a big win and look to push their streak to 18 Thursday at home against the Pistons.
The Phoenix Suns are rolling and playing some big-time basketball right now. That train rolled into Madison Square Garden on Friday night for a quick stop, they handled business, and now it’s off to Brooklyn as the Suns routed the Knicks 118-97 to win their 15th straight game.
Phoenix(16-3) led New York(10-9) by as many as 17 points in the first half and had a 13-point halftime lead. The Suns dominated the second half and led by as many 22 points in the third and by as many as 24 points in the game.
Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Suns’ win over Knicks at MSG:
The Great for the Suns:
-Devin Booker loves New York, and he balled out on Friday night. Coming into this game, Book was averaging over 30 points and shooting over 50% a contest at MSG. On Friday, Booker had 21 of his 32 points in the first half on 14/27 from the field, including four threes.
“A lot of guys say they want to play on this stage, [Booker] really does,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said post-game. “He likes to kill. That’s who he is.”