It must be very difficult to have a holiday where you eat out of control and then return a day later to play a competitive basketball game, this was the case for the Phoenix Suns and several other teams around the league.
The Suns played the lowly Detroit Pistons coming into Footprint Center with a 5-15 record, but they didn’t play like their record indicated them to.
Although, it’s pretty human nature as a superior team to play down to the level of the competition, especially when you know the schedule says you have another game the next night against one of the top teams in the West.
Phoenix looked like they were sleepwalking thru the first half, and if it were not for DeAndre Ayton having his best offensive game of the season, the outcome may have been upsettingly different.
Ayton had a season and game-high 28 points and 12 rebounds to record a double-double, and also recorded his highest free throw attempts of the season with 7 and making 6.
The Pistons were without Cade Cunningham and rookie Jaden Ivy and they hung around in this game against the best in the West for the entire game.
The third quarter was where the Suns established a little separation, led by Ayton’s big night and control of the game by guard Cam Payne, who also had a double-double on the night recording 16 and 10 in 31 minutes.
The Suns were outrebounded 49-43 and were out-scored in fast break points 11 to 2, and gave up 19 offensive rebounds leading to 16 Pistons second chance points and they still won the game.
This speaks of just how good this team is even on a night where it looked like no one wanted to play, with the exception of Ayton and of course star guard and leading Devin Booker.
Booker was steady and held things together when there was a time needed to get a must basket, Devin shot the ball 8 of 17 from the field and missed a season-high four free throws.
It was just that kind of night, but the bottom line was the outcome, a 108-102 Suns victory and a tough Utah Jazz team coming in the next night on a back-to-back.
These Suns of the last few years, give off a familiar vibe of those San Antonio Spurs teams with Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich where they always compete every night and just simply find a way to win games where most teams would lose.
Of course, this is in the regular season.
We know those Spurs teams always finished high in the playoffs, and much like this Suns team, they didn’t have all the flashy players that lived above the rim, they just had a great scheme that allowed their chemistry to lead them as the ball movement broke down opposing teams defenses.
Those Spurs teams always finished the regular season with 50 plus wins and among the best in the Western Conference consistently year in and year out, and it appears today’s Phoenix Suns led by a Head Coach that was cut from the Popovich tree, Monty Wiliams are similar.
One could also throw in those Utah Jazz teams of Stockton and Malone led by Jerry Sloan, who played the same way, with great ball movement and team chemistry.
The Suns will have to finish in the playoffs and add some hardware to truly allow most to see the comparison to those great teams, but they don’t look to afar off.