The Phoenix Suns, in the quintessential game of what I want from the Suns right now, lost Sunday to the Brooklyn Nets 102-100.
The men in orange showed the four aspects that Suns fans should want from their franchise, including some great basketball, with magnificent performances by Goran Dragic and Wesley Johnson. The other two parts are a close game, and the last is ultimately a loss for future draft position.
The Suns delivered and checked all the boxes. The score was knotted up at 25 apiece at the end of the first quarter, but Brooklyn started pulling away by halftime with their 12-point lead.
The lead was stretched to its highest point of the night with 10:25 left in the third, following a couple Deron Williams’ buckets that put the Nets up 16 points. Coming out of the Suns timeout, Wesley Johnson went crazy. He came out and immediately had a three-pointer. After the teams went back and forth, both scoring baskets the score was down to 69-67 in favor of Brooklyn then Johnson hit four straight three-pointers from behind the arc for 12 points, while the Nets only made six points in that span, bringing the score to 76-75 with the Suns in the lead going into the final period.
The game got intense in the fourth quarter, but the Suns ended up losing at the buzzer 102-100, following a Dragic intentionally missed free throw that Haddadi caught but barely missed tipping back in to push the game to an extra session. Haddadi was crushed and that was cool because he has seemed to gel with the team so fast after only 10 games on the court with Phoenix.
The big man for the Suns tonight was Dragic. The Slovenian scored 31 points, which almost eclipsed his career-high of 32 done in his first stint with Phoenix on January 25, 2010 against the Utah Jazz. The scoring output was five more than any other game this season, having 26 against Cleveland on November ninth. The Dragon also added 12 assists and nine rebounds, just one shy of a triple-double that no-one in a Suns uniform has done since Boris Diaw had 21 points, 14 boards and 10 assists in 2006 against the Golden State Warriors.
Wesley Johnson was another weapon that was shooting on all cylinders Sunday. He scored 21 points, which was a season-high for him and the most he has scored in a Suns uniform. The Syracuse product had 17 points in the third quarter that got Phoenix back in the game so it was close at the end.
The other starters had some scoring punch with P.J. Tucker’s 14 points, Markieff Morris’ 10 (plus 15 rebounds and a couple blocks), and Luis Scola’s eight points. The bench wasn’t great, only adding 16 points. However, Hamed Haddadi had a +11 plus/minus!
On the Brooklyn side of the ball it was just a case of a team that is 12 games over .500 with two all-stars beating a team that is 25 games under .500 with no all-stars. At some point talent just takes over and the luck only goes so far.
Deron Williams had 20 points and 11 assists and a couple steals, while the other all-star Brook Lopez added 21 points from the center position. The Nets also got a scoring punch off the bench with Kris Humphries’ 17 points and C.J. Watson’s 14.
With the Suns loss and the Cavaliers inactive from Friday until Wednesday, Phoenix is now practically tied (Suns have one more win and loss) with Kyrie Irving’s team for the third-worst record in the league, only ahead of the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats.
Both teams have a couple days off before Brooklyn heads to Portland to take on the Trailblazers and the Suns travel to Utah to play the Jazz.