EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns find better energy for clinical win over Spurs

Mar 23, 2024, 7:17 PM | Updated: 9:26 pm

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives in front of Keldon Johnson #3 of the San Antonio Spurs i...

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives in front of Keldon Johnson #3 of the San Antonio Spurs in the first half at Frost Bank Center on March 23, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns were overdue for a win like Saturday’s 131-106 final over the San Antonio Spurs, taking care of business early against an inferior opponent.

Phoenix has struggled to find consistent effort and focus on both ends over the course of these games and especially at the start of them. That’s when it can deny a team the chance at some confidence, giving them the feeling they are very beatable. Great teams win clinically through consistency on a regular basis and Phoenix hasn’t been able to do that this season.

The Suns, however, put together a much improved first quarter compared to its two starts earlier in the week for similar matchups, a sign they were heading in the right direction before expanding their lead to 17 in the mid-second quarter. Their defense was solid and avoided some of the mind-numbing mistakes that have turned into a pattern over March.

The advantage ballooned to 25 two minutes into the third quarter. When it jumped to 26 at 8:28 remaining in that period, Phoenix had 22 assists and just two turnovers. It finished at 38 and 10, plus there were no extracurriculars in the fourth quarter, an improvement given how expected they are no matter the state of the game.

One of Phoenix’s issues as of late has been winning through its stars. The Suns should be a 50-win team solely off having the Big 3 it does, riding that trio in a well-sized chunk of those victories simply off its talent. Injuries have gotten in the way of that some but recent shooting funks for both Devin Booker and Kevin Durant have not allowed that to come into the fold recently.

Both were in their scoring flows. Durant shot 12-of-16 for 25 points with three steals and Booker looked back to himself for the first time in the seven games he’s played since sitting for an ankle sprain. He finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.

Bradley Beal, meanwhile, brought constant paint touches to open up the Suns’ drive-and-kick game that was money all night. His season-high 12 assists came with 13 points. He and Booker had one turnover apiece while Durant had zero.

Head coach Frank Vogel was able to keep Durant at only 31 minutes, his lowest total since Feb. 14 and in the top-5 for the least he’s had to log this season. Ditto for Booker’s 30.

If Phoenix can double up on this type of outing against San Antonio again on Monday, it would be some solid momentum before the difficult closing stretch of the season, something Phoenix hasn’t had since the All-Star break.

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