EMPIRE OF THE SUNS
Devin Booker drops 38, Suns offense catches fire for 3rd straight win
Dec 17, 2018, 8:32 PM | Updated: 10:59 pm
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Since late November of 2015, the Phoenix Suns have had a record of 1-12 when they were on a two-game winning streak.
They had gone 266 games with only one three-game winning streak, stretching back to four seasons ago.
Even when facing off against a 9-22 New York Knicks team without four rotation players, one of which being leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr., there was no reason to feel confident in a Suns team that was actually favored on the road.
But if there was one, it was the improvement the Suns had shown in the past handful of games when it comes to the eye test, playing through the right level of energy and defensive intensity.
Turns out, that was a worthwhile reason.
With game No. 267, the Suns added a second three-game winning streak by beating Knicks 128-110 on Monday in New York.
It’s the team’s first three wins in a row since March of 2017.
The most encouraging aspect of the Suns’ win was coming back after a frustrating first half that saw New York up seven despite great offensive first halves from Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker. Because of a large rebounding advantage, the Knicks had 11 more field goal attempts.
Instead of coming out in the second half and letting that get to them, the Suns responded with a 41-point third quarter, including 17 from T.J. Warren, to hold a 17-point lead through three quarters.
The team’s big three, in particular, had terrific offensive nights. Booker tied a season-high with 38, Ayton added 21 along with 13 rebounds and Warren scored 26. The trio combined to shoot 54.5 percent (30-for-55) from the field.
The bench’s strong play continued as well, with Jamal Crawford dishing out a career-high 14 assists. That’s quite the feat for the 38-year-old in his 19th NBA season.
Josh Jackson had arguably his best statistical game of the season, shooting 5-of-9 for 14 points with seven rebounds, three assists and a block. Richaun Holmes also contributed 14 points.
Monday’s win marked the third game in a row the Suns have held their opponent to under 41 percent shooting and 27 assists followed 31 in Saturday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It’s the progress Suns fans have been desperate for during the team’s rebuilding period, and they might actually be seeing it truly get started on the team’s road trip.
The Suns are in Boston on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to face the Celtics. You can listen live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.