O’Neale: Phoenix Suns took Spurs ‘too lightly’ in glaring loss

Mar 26, 2024, 8:35 PM

The Phoenix Suns had little trouble cruising past the Victor Wembanyama-led San Antonio Spurs in a 131-106 victory just two games ago.

So, with Wembanyama out Monday night, all signs pointed to the Suns doling out another beatdown in San Antonio.

Or so they thought.

Instead of matching wins with the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks, two teams fighting for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, Phoenix fell flat as the Spurs notched just their 16th win of the year in a 104-102 victory.

And on top of the loss marking yet another should-win matchup that the Suns couldn’t capitalize on, the most glaring part of Monday’s defeat was the effort or lack thereof.

“I wasn’t here earlier in the season when those games happened, so I can’t really speak on those, but last night was taking a team too lightly,” Royce O’Neale told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “They came out, played hard and competed every possession, made some big shots. Hats off to them.”

O’Neale wasn’t the only Suns player to acknowledge the big negative in the room, with Bradley Beal sounding off on Phoenix expecting an easy win with Wembanyama out.

Head coach Frank Vogel doubled down on Beal’s comments, calling the loss “unacceptable” while acknowledging a lack of focus and discipline.

For now, all the Suns can do is soul search as best they can and move on knowing there’s just 10 regular season games left to play.

“Definitely was an honest conversation and film session that we had,” O’Neale said. “Hopefully that game last night we learned from it and took the positive and negatives and hopefully that lights a fire in us to be ready to finish out the season strong and make this playoff push.”

If playing down to their competition is the biggest issue, the Suns shouldn’t have to worry about that during this final stretch.

Of the seven teams that remain on the docket, all of them are a six seed or higher in their respective conferences. Nine of the upcoming games come against the teams seeded ahead of the Suns in the Western Conference.

Safe to say it’s going to be a gauntlet, though O’Neale remains confident Phoenix can handle what’s next.

“I’ll take my chances against any team in the league.”

Phoenix Suns

Devin Booker and Kevin Durant...

Dan Bickley

Legacies are on the line for Suns stars entering the playoffs

Legacy is a central theme on the eve of the Suns’ 2023-24 postseason journey, starting with the reputation of Devin Booker.

5 hours ago

Karl-Anthony Towns posts up Kevin Durant...

Arizona Sports

Who’s the favorite? Our roundtable makes Suns-Wolves playoff series predictions

Let's make our predictions for the Phoenix Suns and the Minnesota Timberwolves' first-round playoff series.

9 hours ago

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks the ball against Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoeni...

Kellan Olson

Who will win trade-off of Timberwolves’ size vs. Suns’ space?

The Minnesota Timberwolves' size and the Phoenix Suns' spacing will make for a fun stylistic clash in the NBA Playoffs.

14 hours ago

Devin Booker and Kevin Durant...

Nick Borgia

Team USA’s Grant Hill delivers Olympics jerseys to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant

Suns stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant officially accepted the invitation to compete on USA's 12-man squad for the Paris Olympics.

1 day ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: Is overconfidence the biggest concern with the Suns in their playoff series with the Timberwolves?

Having not lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves all season, Wolf & Luke wonder if the Phoenix Suns might be a little overconfident heading into their first round playoff series with them.

1 day ago

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 10: Jusuf Nurkic #20 of the Phoenix Suns talks with Bradley Beal #3...

Kellan Olson

Bradley Beal, Jusuf Nurkic must maintain footing for Suns playoffs series vs. T-Wolves

Bradley Beal and Jusuf Nurkic must step up to help the Phoenix Suns' first-round playoff series against the Timberwolves.

2 days ago

O’Neale: Phoenix Suns took Spurs ‘too lightly’ in glaring loss