The Phoenix Suns continued its pursuit of the Utah Jazz for the top seed in the Western Conference by running the San Antonio Spurs out of the building in the first part of this season-ending series. The Suns outshot the Spurs from the field (55% to 44%) and from three (15 for 33 vs. 4 for 26), while their starters waylaid their counterparts 77-55.
San Antonio appeared content with parsing out playing time to its end-of-bench players and keeping its slate of healthy contributors clean. Spurs players, staff, and fans can now comfortably get ready to watch the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies starting at 4:30 PM CT.
Phoenix was paced by its stars - Devin Booker (27 points and 4 assists) and Chris Paul (16 points and 10 assists) and was supported by Mikal Bridges (18 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals).
The ‘new-look’ Spurs were led by Keldon Johnson (18 points), Drew Eubanks (15 points and 11 rebounds), and Gorgui Dieng (18 points and 7 rebounds). San Antonio now awaits the results of tomorrow’s Golden State / Memphis match-up to determine where it’s play-in game will be staged on Wednesday night.
- SO. MUCH. MORNING. BASKETBALL. HERE ON THE WEST COAST.
- Tim Duncan’s statline in the 2013 Finals for Games 6 and 7: Game 6 - 30 points and 17 rebounds / Game 7 - 24 points and 12 rebounds.
- Assistant Coach Mitch Johnson took the reins for this game with Pop in absentia.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Johnson paired a ‘Kool-Aid Man’ highlight on Dario Saric, while screaming “and-1” of course, with a pull-up three in transition.
- Quinn-diary: He stoutly contested Booker to force a miss late in the first half, and tracked down a wayward outlet pass to convert a fast break lay-up. He seemed to find more solid footing in the second half - looking for his offense more.
- Lonnie Walker IV was temporarily wiped out by teammate Drew Eubanks midway through the opening stanza with what looked like a lower body contusion. Though this would have been the type of game where he could have put up stellar numbers, Walker IV’s shooting touch evaded him and he managed to be shutout of the scoresheet (0-9 FG, 0-5 3-pt, 3 turnovers).
- Mikal Bridges’ impressive game looks like what Vassell could bring to the Spurs in a few years.
- Begrudging respect: Chris Paul teams have accumulated a career 677-431 (.611 win %) regular season record.
- The Suns blitzed the Spurs replacement starters as they had difficulty getting their shots to fall, while Phoenix whipped the ball around the halfcourt for open looks. In a manner befitting the sloppy play, Patty Mills committed an unforced error to a Suns defender only for Jae Crowder to toss the ball out of bounds in transition. Devin Booker did a chunk of the damage with pretty make after pretty make. Johnson heroically tried to counter Booker’s production by attacking the basket at-will. Tre Jones and Keita Bates-Diop found success in the paint, but the Suns doubled up the hosts 34-17 after one.
- At the start of the second, Gorgui Dieng had a block incorrectly ruled a goaltend and was called for a charge at the other end when he hadn’t cleanly come down with the pass. But Dieng demonstrated resilience by stripping a Phoenix player on defense and earning himself free throws. a jumper, and a layup to boot. The Suns calmly responded with threes to push their advantage out to 21. Cameron Payne seemed intent on leading the team in field goal attempts. Johnson went on a personal 8-0 run to help the Spurs trim the deficit to a dozen, but Paul and Booker helped make it a 68-47 game at the break.
- Intent on resting their starters as much as they could before tomorrow’s early tipoff, Phoenix netted the first 11 points in the third quarter. While he was a general nuisance on defense, Eubanks confidently knocked down a 17-footer. The Suns eclipsed the century mark late in the third with Torrey Craig continuing his success against San Antonio on a variety of makes and hustle plays. Heading into the fourth, the Suns had the game salted away 109-70.
- Notable in extended fourth quarter garbage-time: Eubanks again nailed a jumper from the top of the key. Weatherspoon notched his career high with 13 points. Jones led the bench unit very capably with a handful of assists.
For the Suns fan’s perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.
Both teams return for the last SEGABABA of the season tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM CT on BSSW.