Story By Jordan Spurgeon
The Phoenix Suns went 6-1 on the latest home stand.
Could’ve been 7-0, until they squandered a 24 point lead to James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night. The return of Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Mike D’Antoni served as a reminder that this team still has plenty of room for improvement.
“We couldn’t get a stop the whole second half,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “We gave them life in the second half, it wasn’t just the last four minutes. We had a lot of vanilla possessions in the third quarter, which led to more opportunities for them.”
This happens in the NBA when you “give a team life.” The Suns shot 64 percent in the first half and dropped over 70 points. The Nets countered with a 70 plus point half of their own. Despite the 128-124 loss to the Nets, who were without Kevin Durant (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (back), the Suns are trending upwards. Following this home stand, Monty Williams has this team playing at an elite level as a top-four offense and defense. A rare feat in the NBA, but not one that guarantees sustained success.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 17, 2021
This team is young and the ceiling is unknown. Chris Paul, who had 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Devin Booker are the staples of this team. But outside of them, questions remain about whether or not their nine-deep rotation is good enough to compete when it matters most in the postseason. Games like these will advance the development of the team because great teams never let their foot off the gas, even with 24 point halftime leads.
“When it got tough we didn’t step up to the challenge,” Suns forward Jae Crowder said. “That’s a disgusting loss in my eyes… We have a lot to get better. It’s on the players.”
Crowder knows this is part of the growing process. That’s the important takeaway from the finale of this home stand, growth. They can compete with any team, but games like Tuesday night can’t happen on a consistent basis in order for the Suns to be considered a true top four team in the West.
They beat some top-notch teams in this stretch, including the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers. The next step is to regroup and move forward.
“You can’t just beat down on yourself and pout,” Suns forward Mikal Bridges said. “No excuses, we have to learn from it. The best teams learn from it and go do their thing the next game.”
Next up for the Suns is back-to-back road games against the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday and Saturday.