The Introduction of Kevin Durant to the Valley was more than your regular press conference, it felt more like “the decision” Lebron James had when leaving Cleveland for the super team in Miami.
In the previous game, the Suns played a masterful game with high energy against the third-best team in the West the Sacramento Kings, but that energy was not quite the same the next game. In town were the Los Angeles Clippers for the final game before the All-Star weekend and for the early part of the game it felt close to a playoff game.
Both teams displayed newcomers to their squads and gearing up for the stretch run of the regular season, but the Clippers had their entire host of star players as the Suns were still playing without Durant.
Chris Paul struggled to score the ball in this game as he dealt with the antagonizing defense from Terrence Mann and others that made it hard for him to get off to a good scoring start, the Clippers came out looking like they were almost in playoff form and their new pieces Bones Highland and Eric Gordon were very effective.
The Suns newcomer Terrance Ross hot shooting as he has always done kept the Suns afloat throughout the game scoring 16 points on 7 of 17 shooting.
Planet Orange leading scorer was not the usual stars Devin Booker or Chris Paul, but the leading guy on both sides of the ball was Josh Okogie touching 50% from the three-point line and finishing with a team-high 24 points with 6 rebounds.
The Clippers would go on to win 116-109 even with a lackluster performance from Kwai Leonard, the team was led by the energetic Terrance Mann and the steady and consistent Paul George each scoring 26 points.
The Suns may have had one foot on vacation and another in this game all night and the body language of Center DeAndre Ayton went back to his lazy and lethargic tendencies for the entire evening, being out hustled in the paint by Zubac.
Again, this is another game from Ayton that the box score may say is a decent game, but the eye test shows an entirely different story as he scored 18 ineffective points and 6 vicinity rebounds and was physically manhandled by anyone guarding in the paint.
Perhaps the Suns figure they may be seeing the Clippers a lot down the stretch and a potential playoff matchup and held back, as Monty used the game to try out a series of rotation combinations to get the newcomers acclimated.
Now the season will shift into go mode the last 22 games after the break, and there is very little room for another slump if they want to catch the top four spots in the Western Conference.
The television station ESPN has reportedly already flexed the Suns on the National schedule, as they anticipate the debut of star Forward Kevin Durant coming off an MCL sprain while in Brooklyn.
Regardless of how good Kevin Durant will be, realistically it will still take some time to get the entire team chemistry rolling going into the playoffs, and the elephant in the room, staying healthy for all top three star players.