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Devin Booker ejected late, Suns fall in uninspiring loss to Hawks

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward Cam Reddish (22) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Suns have two critical flaws as a team. They are a terrible three-point shooting team and a terrible defensive team.

Until one of those changes, particularly the latter, they are going to have an extremely difficult time winning games.

That was the case in Atlanta against the Hawks, where they gave up 123 points to a 8-32 team and shot 4-of-20 (20%) from three-point range in a 123-110 loss.

Phoenix has now shot under 36% from three-point range in 16 of their last 17 games.

In a game the Suns were within reaching distance of in the first half, the Hawks pulled out to a 14-point lead in the third quarter.

Phoenix quickly responded with a 26-9 run to go up late in the third.

The fourth quarter was the Trae Young show, where the second-year guard had 21 of his 36 points, carving up the Suns with deep threes and nice passes.

Phoenix was without Ricky Rubio, who is expecting his first child. In his place was Elie Okobo, who provided no lift offensively that Rubio can through his playmaking. Okobo had zero points, three rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.

Head coach Monty Williams went with Devin Booker at point guard to go through most of the fourth quarter, something he has been reluctant to do in the past. But he had no other reliable option at point guard, so in went Booker, who was terrific with 39 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals on 12-for-23 shooting.

Booker picked up two separate technical fouls that led to his ejection late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach, the second of which an awful call he appeared to get for saying something to Hawks wing DeAndre’ Bembry.

Deandre Ayton had his second strong game in a row, particularly on defense, where he continues to show a much-improved feel for defending ball screens. He finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

Beyond that, Mikal Bridges continued his strong form with 15 points and four steals but he was the only other Suns player to be effective on offense. So, yes, that meant it was a rough night for Kelly Oubre Jr. He shot 4-of-16 with 11 points.

The Hawks shot 45.2% from three-point range and got 23 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists from guard Kevin Huerter, and another 22 points and 10 rebounds via big man John Collins.

UP NEXT

The Suns keep it going on an East coast road trip, taking on the New York Knicks on Thursday. Tp-off is set for 5:30 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM.


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