EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Lethargic Phoenix Suns effort not enough to beat young Orlando Magic

Nov 11, 2022, 7:25 PM
Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) drives around Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) du...

Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) drives around Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Kevin Kolczynski)

(AP Photo/Kevin Kolczynski)

The Phoenix Suns just didn’t have it on Friday night in a 114-97 loss to the Orlando Magic.

The offense didn’t have much zip to it. The defense wasn’t containing as much as it normally did and got beat to a number of 50/50 balls. That allowed a young Magic (4-9) team to breathe and get confident early on before shots started to fall to a degree in the second half that put the game away early. It was only a six-point game at the half despite how poorly the Suns played but the Magic quickly got that up to 13 through three quarters.

Phoenix (8-4) was without Chris Paul (right heel soreness) and Landry Shamet (concussion-like symptoms), making the offensive options even more limited while Cam Johnson recovers from a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Orlando did a good job with its length and execution of the gameplan on Devin Booker, not affording him much space in his midrange pockets. Booker most nights can still dismantle a defensive effort like that but, like his team, it was just one of those nights for him.

He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two turnovers on 6-of-19 shooting. Booker entered the night with the best +/- in basketball but was a game-low -27 on Friday.

After a career-high 21 field goal attempts and season-high 31 points in Wednesday’s win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Mikal Bridges was more aggressive offensively again in this one. His shot, however, was off all evening. Bridges was wearing a sleeve on his left arm after he was seen fiddling with his left elbow in Minnesota.

A lot of his misses on a 3-for-13 shooting night were uncharacteristically offline. When Bridges went into the short midrange area in semi-transition in the second quarter, where he will knock down his patented touch shot, Bridges took an awkward-looking one-handed push shot that indicated his left elbow was indeed bothering him.

Deandre Ayton’s engagement levels weren’t there. He wasn’t sealing with consistency in a game where a lot of the Suns’ offensive sets were designed to capitalize on switches and create mismatches in the post. His first shift of the second half, in particular, was rather disconnected. He had 14 points and five rebounds.

While Cam Payne’s scoring impact of a team-high 22 points and 8-of-15 from the field was there, he had four assists and four turnovers. To be fair, he was the Suns’ best player by a pretty wide margin.

Orlando ended up 15-of-33 (45.5%) from 3-point range and had six players in double figures, including 20 points for Wendell Carter Jr., 17 via Franz Wagner and 16 more from Jalen Suggs. The Magic were without star rookie Paolo Banchero (ankle), which might have had something to do with the Suns’ lack of intensity.

Penguin Air

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