Lineup change, ‘Point Book’ gives Suns offense boost in loss to 76ers

Nov 19, 2018, 7:34 PM | Updated: Nov 20, 2018, 8:20 am
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov said leading up to this season that he doesn’t want his franchise shooting guard Devin Booker playing much point guard.

When you’re 3-12, however, and the most effective way to play your best players together is Booker starting at point, compromises have to be made.

That’s what Kokoskov did on Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers. With the return of Trevor Ariza to the team after missing two games due to personal reasons and the strong play of rookie Mikal Bridges in Ariza’s place, the Suns moved point guard Isaiah Canaan to the bench and started both forwards with Booker, Deandre Ayton and T.J. Warren.

Booker played terrific in the role, scoring 37 points and dishing out eight assists with only two turnovers, but the 76ers were too much for the Suns to handle on the road in a 119-114 loss.

All together, Kokoskov seemed to abandon the traditional and simplistic nature of his rotations.

He did not play Ryan Anderson or Dragan Bender at power forward, instead relying on one of Ariza or Warren on the floor at all times to play the position. Canaan did play, but he continued to not run much of the offense and Jamal Crawford had his turns at it along with Booker. Troy Daniels played for the first time since Halloween, and when he did, it was in a three-guard lineup.

As for the game itself, the Suns capitalized off a 36-26 first quarter lead into a five-point advantage at halftime.

Booker had seven assists and zero turnovers in the first half.

Phoenix’s foul trouble, though, dug them in a hole as the 76ers began to get more confident in the game. Booker and Bridges each had four fouls midway through the third quarter and both Ayton and Warren also had three.

From there, Philadelphia slowly chipped away. The 76ers controlled the game in the fourth, and while the Suns didn’t allow the floodgates to open through nine fourth-quarter points from Ayton, the 76ers wouldn’t let the game get within one possession, either.

The Suns’ 13-of-24 shooting from the foul line was an issue.

As for the much-anticipated inaugural matchup between Ayton and Joel Embiid, there weren’t many fireworks on either side despite strong individual performances.

Embiid was in his MVP form, scoring 33 points with 17 rebounds while Ayton had 17 points and nine rebounds.

Warren scored 21 points, extending his streak of scoring at least 20 points to six games. Ariza had one of his better games in a Suns uniform, scoring 10 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.

While the Suns are 1-2 in their last three games, the three games mark a significant line of progress made by the team being competitive in all those games unlike any other run this season.

Empire of the Suns

Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul (3) talks with Devin Booker (1) during the first half of Game 3 of basketb...
Kellan Olson

Empire of the Suns: Picking Phoenix’s MVP, MIP and biggest concern

Here are a few key questions for the Phoenix Suns as they attempt to make another deep playoff run.
1 day ago
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks heads to the net as Kevin Durant #7 of the Brookly...
Arizona Sports

Empire of the Suns’ NBA preview: Title favs, MVP picks and players to watch

Empire of the Suns podcast co-hosts Kellan Olson and Kevin Zimmerman dive into the new year with this NBA-wide glance.
1 day ago
Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass around Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Su...
Kellan Olson

Suns add unnecessary unease with no Deandre Ayton extension

It would appear the Suns are attempting to nickel and dime with their No. 1 overall pick from 2018, and that could backfire.
2 days ago
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams, right, talks with guard Cameron Payne during the first half of t...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns keeping practice gym lively leading up to season opener

The Phoenix Suns are using the right balance in their week of practices between the preseason and regular season.
4 days ago
Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns reacts to a three-point shot against the Brooklyn Nets during...
Kellan Olson

Mikal Bridges waiting like all of us for potential contract extension with Suns

When Phoenix Suns wing Mikal Bridges was discussing a potential new contract extension on Friday, a word he kept coming back to was waiting.
5 days ago
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) looks to pass as Portland Portland Trail Blazers forward Norman...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker comes back like he never left in Suns’ preseason finale

Devin Booker made his preseason debut in the Phoenix Suns' last preseason game and the shooting guard played well.
7 days ago
Lineup change, ‘Point Book’ gives Suns offense boost in loss to 76ers