The Wrap Up: Frank the Tank + Suns rolling

And We’re Back

 

After starting the season 1-3 the Suns have now won 8 straight games. The difference has been simple really, the Suns are playing at the defensive level that saw them win 51 of 72 games a season ago. That defensive intensity has led to transition opportunities and the Suns have taken full advantage. Add in the Suns have averaged 27 assists per game, consistently finding the open man. This stretch has had to come without the services of starting center Deandre Ayton who has been out with a pair of leg injuries.

Revenge in Sac Town

After a heartbreaking buzzer-beating loss last go around, the Suns got their revenge on Monday. The first half was a tightly contested and high-scoring affair with the Suns taking a 67-64 halftime lead. Rightly so, Coach Monty Williams got into his team for their defensive focus. The team got the message as they had 11 deflections in the third quarter as part of their 14 steal night. They had one stretch with 13 straight defensive stops which led them to a 31-11 scoring advantage in the quarter.

Taking a 23 point lead into the final 12 minutes, Monty tried to have the bench close it out. Unfortunately, cold shooting and a lack of defensive intensity saw the lead dwindle away forcing Monty to get the starters back in with 5 minutes left. One crucial moment came with just over a minute again from the defensive end. On a Kings fast break opportunity Harrison Barnes ran into Devin Booker for an and-one to cut the lead to 3. Booker, however, was sure he was set and told Coach Williams to challenge and did. The video replay showed he was set and outside the restricted area and the call was switched to an offensive foul. from there out we saw one Kings dunk and 2 Chris Paul FTs to close it out for a 109-104 Suns victory.

It was a balanced offensive attack for the Suns with Cameron Payne leading the scoring off the bench with 24. Book added 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges each contributed 16.

To be Frank

No need to bury the lead, this was the Frank Kaminsky game. In a game where many of the Suns usual go-to players struggled, Frank Kaminsky carried the Suns with 31 points (12-18 FG) in their 119-109 win over the Portland Trailblazers. The most impressive part was the variety of ways he was scoring. Frank hit 2 3’s, made all 5 of his FTs, was drilling floaters, but was wildly effective from the post including a beautiful up and under.

It got to the point where late in the 4th quarter the Trailblazers started throwing double teams his way which led to 2 Jae Crowder 3 pointers and one for Devin Booker sealing the win. Chris Paul was the Suns second-leading scorer with 21 points and 7 assists. Fellow Center who started the game in place of Ayton added 14 and 8 rebounds. Damian Lillard led the Blazers attack with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.

This performance spoke to the Suns’ overall roster and culture. After not playing much at all to start the season, Kaminsky stepped up in the biggest way when called upon. These are the types of performances that winning teams need throughout a long season when the rest of the team is unavailable or struggling. It’s not often you go two straight games with 2 different players from off the bench leading your team in scoring and come out with victories in both. This won’t be the last time the Suns require a bench effort like they got tonight and James Jones has built the roster to oblige.

Tame the Bear

The Suns took to the road a battle against Memphis. The Grizzlies entered the season with high expectations after a few offseason moves and growth from 3rd-year guard Ja Morant. Morant has more than lived up to his end and led all scorers with 26 points while also adding 12 rebound and 6 assists.

His efforts, however, were done so against a defense that held Memphis to just 37.8% shooting including 21.2% from distance. The Suns smothered their opposition for 48 minutes in a 119-94 blowout victory. Suns defenders consistently got their hand on the ball to the tune of 12 steals and 6 blocks. Chris Pail led the way there with 5 steals on his own.

Not only were Paul’s fingerprints all over the game defensively but offensively as well. He scored 15 points and tacked on 12 assists. He was one of 7 Suns players in double figures with Jae Crowder and Devin Booker tying for lead with 17 points a piece.

Rocket failed to launch

The final game of the 4 game week came against a young Houston Rockets team. Both offenses had a slow start as the Suns led the Rockets 51-44 in the first half. From there out it was all Suns as Phoenix outscored Houston by 19 in the second half in route of a 115-89 win.

As he often has been in his young career, Devin Booker was the star of the show. He took advantage of the Rockets’ inexperience and over-aggressive nature time and time again. He led the team in scoring and assists with 26 and 6 respectively.

His backcourt mate wouldn’t let him indulge on the fun on his own, as Paul racked up 7 of the Suns’ 16 steals. This is part of Paul’s league-leading 2.8 steals along with also leading in assists at 10.4 per game. The moment of the game came late in the 4th qtr as Chris Paul gave a Rockets rookie their “welcome to the NBA” moment.

The leadership and stability that the veteran and future Hall of Fame point guard has brought to the franchise can’t be overstated enough.

Rundown

With their 8-0 stretch the Suns currently own the longest win streak in the NBA. It also matches their longest streak of the last 2 regular seasons with their run in the Orlando bubble. The team had 4 games this week in attempt to keep their win streak alive. It begins tonight against a Minnesota team that’s lost 7 of their last 8 games. They’ll then have back-to-back home games against the 8-4 Dallas Mavericks. They’ll finish off the week against The Denver Nuggets also at home.

Kings Ransom presented by DraftKings

How’d they do?

Suns at Kings (-3.5) o/u: 224
Suns vs Blazers (-5) o/u: 225
Suns at Grizzlies (-2) o/u: 223
Suns at Rockets (-8.5) o/u: 222

Despite being on the road 3 of the 4 games the Suns were favored in all 4 games. That was the smart money as the Suns not only won all 4 but they also covered the spread in each. If you bet that, congrats! If you bet the over this week, not as good. The under continues to trend for the Suns and it was a 1/3 on the o/u the lone over being in the Blazers game.

This week
Suns at Timberwolves (-3.5) o/u: 223

The Suns will be playing on the 2nd night of a back-to-back against Minnesota. On a positive note, Deandre Ayton’s status was upgraded to questionable.

Suns vs Mavericks x2
Suns vs Nuggets

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @J_Kartch


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