Suns Strokes: Suns tie record for worst loss in franchise history to Spurs
PHOENIX — Even before tip-off, the Phoenix Suns’ odds of winning Wednesday night were slim.
For one, they played the night before, losing at the L.A. Lakers. Devin Booker was once again in street clothes, sitting out a second straight game with a left hip pointer. And Tyson Chandler didn’t play because of a sore neck.
Oh, and the opponent, the San Antonio Spurs, had been off since Saturday.
Add it all up and the result was to be expected.
The Spurs won going away, 129-81, in front of an announced crowd of 15,993 at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The 48-point defeat equaled the Opening Night setback to Portland for the worst loss in franchise history.
The beat-down happened quickly.
The Suns scored nine points in the first quarter and had 31 at halftime. Both numbers were season-lows. In fact, the nine first-quarter points were their fewest for any quarter this season and two off a franchise-worst mark.
Alex Len (14 points), Josh Jackson (13), Dragan Bender (12) and T.J. Warren (11) all reached double-figures in scoring. But they were no match for LaMarcus Aldridge and company.
Aldridge led six Spurs in double figures. He scored 23 on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds for his 21st double-double of the season.
With the victory, the Spurs (35-21) sweep the season series for the second time in three years. They’ve won 13 of the last 14 meetings in the series.
Meanwhile, the Suns (18-38) have lost four straight, nine of 10 and 12 of 13 overall. Their 38 losses are the most in the NBA.
There weren’t many first-half highlights, but one certainly stood out. At the 7:28 mark of the second quarter, Tyler Ulis passed to Jackson for the one-handed slam to polish off the alley-oop. It was Jackson’s second made field goal of the game and Ulis’ first assist — and as it turned out, his only assist. Ulis exited 18 seconds later due to back spasms and did not return, leaving Josh Gray as the only healthy point guard.
Running the offense at times, Jackson scored eight third-quarter points, doubling his first-half output. He shot 4-of-7 from the field, missing his only 3-point attempt, and grabbed a team-best five rebounds. Warren, too, nearly doubled his first-half scoring total. He had seven on 2-of-4 shooting and made all three of his free throw attempts. Combined, the two were 10-of-26 for 23 points through three quarters of action.
Gray had nine points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals in his third career game. He became the first NBA rookie to have at least four each of points, assists, rebounds and steals since Minnesota’s Kris Dunn in his third career game on Nov. 1, 2016. The last Suns rookie to do so in one of his first three games was Alvan Adams (14 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals) in his NBA debut at Portland on Oct. 25, 1975.
It took the Suns nearly half the first quarter to put points on the board. Jackson drained a 19-foot jumper at the 6:30 mark to end the drought on what was the Suns 10th possession of the game. The Suns missed their first eight field goal attempts and finished 4-of-24 (16.7 percent), including 0-of-7 from 3-point range. The nine-point effort came on the heels of a 14-point fourth-quarter showing last night against the Lakers.
It didn’t get much better in the second quarter. The Suns were outscored 41-22 and trailed by as many as 38 points. Murray led the Spurs with 10 points, while Aldridge added nine, including seven straight late in the period when he faced very little resistance attacking the basket. The worst of it, though, had to be Mills’ four-point play. It was Troy Daniels who fouled Mills. The play made the score 60-31 at the 2:59 mark of the quarter.
Again, the Suns had no answer for Aldridge. In the third quarter, he recorded a pair of and-1s plus a cutting layup. The eight points gave him a game-high 23 through three quarters of action. By the way, his first three-point play put the Spurs up, 75-35 at the 10:07 mark. The Spurs would lead by as many as 47 in the period. In addition to Aldridge, Tony Parker had six points and Pau Gasol five; those two each came off the bench.
STAT OF THE GAME
3-for-32: The Suns missed 29 3-point attempts; Bender was 2-of-4 while the rest of the team went 1-for-28.
HE SAID IT
“I think it was an embarrassment for all of us out here tonight. I think the fans, they’ve earned an apology for the display,” Jared Dudley said. “For us to come in, from top to bottom, not prepared, not ready to play at a high level you need to in the NBA is inexcusable.”
Len led the team in scoring for the first time since he totaled a team-high 21 points back on Nov. 10 against Orlando.
Jackson recorded his sixth consecutive game scoring in double figures, thus extending what is a career-long streak.
San Antonio’s 38-point lead at the break (69-31) marked its largest halftime-advantage in the history of the franchise.
Ulis-Jackson-Warren-Bender-Chriss marked the Suns’ 20th different starting lineup, the third used in as many games.
Chandler missed his eighth game of the season, the third because of injury; back spasms cost him two games in Nov.
Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) and Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) were both inactive for San Antonio.
Phoenix native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper performed at halftime as part of the Suns Music Series.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley was at the game, helping promote D-backs Night coming up Mar. 20.
Another home game.
The Suns host Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets in their one and only appearance in the Valley on Saturday, Feb. 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
The Suns won the last meeting in Denver, 108-100, snapping a seven-game winning streak by the Nuggets, their longest in series history. Booker scored 30 in the victory.
Overall, the Suns have won nine of the past 17 matchups.