PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Jusuf Nurkic focused on role as he builds chemistry with Kevin Durant, Big 3

Feb 2, 2024, 7:28 AM | Updated: 9:36 am

When you think Phoenix Suns, the Big 3 of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal likely come to mind first.

But Suns big man Jusuf Nurkic deserves some recognition for his work in the paint, especially of late.

Putting up one of his best games of the year on Wednesday night behind 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting, 11 rebounds and two blocks, Nurkic was a major factor in Phoenix’s 136-120 win over the Brooklyn Nets, whose switching defense allowed the Suns center to get matchups against smaller players.

The matchup also marked the latest chapter of Nurkic’s two-man game with Kevin Durant, who led the way for the Suns with 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with five rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. Five of Durant’s eight assists went to Nurkic.

“I think the understanding of who I am as a person, I think he understands it the best so far as a player,” Nurkic told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday. “Knowing whatever he does, I’m looking for him out there and any player. Just how great he is, it’s not really that hard but I’m also understanding my role.

“It’s not going to be like last night every game. My coaches didn’t want me to shoot threes and we needed to be better in our roles, so I was like, ‘I’m all in on this.’ Most of the time, if you don’t like your role, you try to play something that people don’t want you to play and I just want to complement these people and players and be the best teammate I can. … I’m trying to do my best in my role to be a star. Whatever it takes to win the game, I’m trying to do.”

The performances of Nurkic and Durant helped Phoenix etch its ninth win in 11 games while also keeping the Suns in the sixth spot out West and trailing the Sacramento Kings by only percentage points.

As for what’s next, it’s all about staying available when it counts.

“We can always be better, but for us … I personally want to be healthy for the postseason,” Nurkic said. “If there’s some games where we’re not perfect, we’re OK with that. We try to be the best we possibly can but losing some games here and there, it’s not going to be end of the road.

“We’re not super high or super low on wins or losses. We understand what our goal is and we try to be as healthy as we possibly can. That’s personally my goal for myself and the team.”

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets during t...

Kellan Olson

Bradley Beal leads big-time Suns response in ugly win vs. Kings

For as much as the last two games looked like the Suns calling it a day on the 2023-24 season, they had at least one more fight left in them.

47 minutes ago

Devin Booker #1 and head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns...

Arizona Sports

NBA playoff standings: Suns can still avoid play-in with 1 game left

Where are the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference standings? They're fighting for playoff positioning and hoping to avoid the play-in.

2 hours ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Something feels very different with Devin Booker and the Suns

On the latest Bickley Blast, Dan Bickley asks if a Devin Booker trade request is in the near future.

15 hours ago

(L-R) Ish Wainright #12, Isaiah Thomas #4, Drew Eubanks #14 and David Roddy #21 of the Phoenix Suns...

Damon Allred

Isaiah Thomas: ‘The world knows how scary’ Phoenix Suns can be in playoffs

Isaiah Thomas joined Burns & Gambo on Thursday to talk about the final week of the regular season and the fight for postseason positioning.

1 day ago

Karl-Anthony Towns posts up Kevin Durant...

Damon Allred

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns expected to make return before regular season finale vs. Suns

Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns is on track to return from a torn meniscus on Friday when the Wolves match up against the Atlanta Hawks.

1 day ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Can a Phoenix Suns playoff run can force this team to reconcile its issues?

Despite the bad vibes surrounding the Phoenix Suns, Dan Bickley debates if an NBA playoff run can be the determining factor in what makes or breaks this team's underlying issues.

2 days ago

Suns’ Jusuf Nurkic focused on role as he builds chemistry with Kevin Durant, Big 3