Despite ultimately falling 120-116 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Phoenix Suns should look at Sunday’s game as a building block, according to Suns color analyst Tim Kempton.
“Either way you look at it, it’s something to build on,” Kempton said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf.
The Suns came out of the gate slow, getting outscored 41-28 in the first quarter. But after getting over “being starstruck,” as Kempton put it, the Suns outscored the defending champions by nine points over the final three periods and came just shy of recording their 13th win of the season.
On a night when the Cavaliers’ big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love scored 28, 27 and 25 points, respectively, the Suns needed big games from their stars and solid help from their supporting cast to even keep the game close.
This is what they got, with six Suns scoring in double figures, led by Eric Bledsoe’s 31 points (his sixth 30-point game of the season) and Devin Booker’s 28.
“That’s what young teams need,” Kempton said. “They need that experience of telling them that they can play at this level. There’s still doubts in 19-20 year old kids going out there and playing against LeBron and Kyrie Irving and that level of competition.”
Kempton viewed the game as a step towards one of the NBA’s youngest teams, with an average age of 25.3 years, maturing by facing a major test and holding its own.
“In one way, you look at it and say, ‘Wow, they grew up tonight,’” he said. “They learned pretty quickly and they gained a lot of great experience against a very good team that’s won a championship.”