in 1993 Phoenix Suns Reunion night, it looked like the number of 1993 Suns Finals teammates here in streetwear was nearly identical to the 2021 Suns Finals teammates in streetwear. But then I looked it up and it was 12-6 for the ’93 team.
The current Suns team has “only” had 6 of their 21 Finals players on the sidelines/outside (Paul, Booker, Crowder, Ayton, Johnson, Payne).
What’s also crazy is that even with 6 of those players out/injured in the Finals, the Suns are still playing three guys who appeared in the 2021 Finals – Michal Bridges, Dario Sarek, and Torey Craig. That’s a lot of continuity, James Jones.
Anyway, yeah, there was a Suns GAME tonight.
It’s good to be home.
Despite missing most of their rotating players (those mentioned above plus Landry Shamet), the Suns came out with a fighting spirit and ran the game very well against a tired and short-handed. Pacers Team on the second night from noon to noon.
The Suns’ best players were Josh Okogie and Mikal Bridges, with a good splash of quarterback play from Bismack Biyombo and Jock Landale. Sabine Lee was also good again off the bench. Ish Wainright has developed himself into a nice two-way player off the bench. Damion Lee was his usual steady.
The Suns took an 8-point lead with less than three minutes left and it looked like a comfortable win, but then Saben Lee flagrantly fouled a defender and before we knew it, the Pacers had pulled away within 4 minutes. Order it with a solid rebound in the paint against Miles Turner and an all-out drive to force free throws. suns backup 6.
Benedict Mathurin’s next three-point game cut the lead to three with 1:56 left, then Ashe Wainwright scored three points to put the Suns back at 6, 107-101 with a minute left. He was 1-6 in triples before that, but he never wavered in the game on the line. This is real growth from it.
TJ McConnell made a three-point game on the next to make it 107-104, but Jock Landall made a reverse touchdown with 26 seconds left to put the Suns back up by 5. Hield made a three-point game to make it two game points with 5 seconds left in the game. Saben Lee split a pair of free throws to give Indiana a chance to tie the game with 4.4 seconds left. But Buddy Held missed three times and the Suns were able to finish the game.
Finally, the Suns won 112-107.
Josh Okoji is the player of the game: 24 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks. All from the bench. with a broken nose. while wearing a face mask.
“He was all over the place tonight,” Monty Williams said afterwards.
“It feels good,” Okoji said afterwards. “With the guys out, we’re lacking in a lot of areas. For me, I’m trying to fill those voids. Just trying to make plays.”
He is grateful for every day he is in the NBA.
“The average player gets 4 to 5 years,” Okoji said. “And there I am! I am grateful for everything I get.”
Michael Bridges added 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Bismak Biombo had 12 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks. Sabine Lee scored 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. In total, 6 players have scored double digits for the Suns.
For the Pacers, the former U of A Wildcats had good games. TJ McConnell scored a triple double, with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Benedict Mathurin scored 23 with 5 rebounds off the bench.
This was a really brave win at home, considering the Suns were missing a lot of players.
The Suns are now 23-24 and only one win out of sixth place (Clippers 24-24), despite all this insane loss.
how did it go
The Suns started out strong with a nice offensive triple on Damion Lee, but then the big concerns started, as the Suns didn’t have any point guards in the lineup and played a five-man group they rarely played together. The former negatively affected the attack while the latter left gaps in the defensive runs.
The Pacers quickly built up to a 10-3 lead as the Suns missed the next five shots.
On the defensive end, the Suns were fine as long as the Pacers threw it at Miles Turner because Bismak Byumbo was such an energetic force at the edge. But if the Pacers—who were also without their head ball coach, Therese Haliburton—swing the ball a few times, that guy’s often open. Wrong Man – Buddy Hield made a pair of triples in that 10-0 run.
The Suns settled though and took a 20-17 lead as the Pacers were actually just staying in the game with their shooting jumps.
Former U of A Wildcat Bennedict Mathurin entered the game as the Pacers began bringing in the subs and immediately made an impact with his aggression. Neither team has a man like Mathurin willing to drive hard every time to the edge.
Former Pacer Duane Washington Jr. entered the game. The Suns got into the game with about two minutes left in the first quarter. He scored 10 points per game for the Pacers last year as a starter, but was released to make room for Deandre Ayton’s pitching sheet that the Suns matched.
DWJ made his first three, which is a good nod to the game, and you can tell he probably wants to make an impact here. He next plays Saben Lee as the shooting guard, which is a better fit for him.
The Suns lead 29-27 after one quarter. Michael Bridges leads the Suns’ balanced attack with seven points and two assists. Josh Okoji, wearing a mask, has 6 points (3-4 shooting), 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. The Suns as a team shoot 59% from the field. For the Pacers, Mathurin tied former U of A Wildcat TJ McConnell with 6 points each.
The Suns have been playing a lot of wonky lineups in this game with a lot of players out there. At one point, the collective team made less money than Torey Craig makes this season.
The Suns had a lineup of S.Lee-Washington-Okogie-Wainright-Landale on the ground making a grand total of $4.76 million.
– David (@theIVpointplay) January 22, 2023
The Suns opened the second quarter with a nice pair of threes. Ish Wainright on a really nice play as he circled the field twice to lose a man. Ish got a steal on the other end and Duane Washington drained three in transition. Suns 35-27. Time out, Indiana.
The Suns held the lead through the first half of the second quarter before really chipping away at both ends, allowing the Pacers to take the lead on TJ McConnell’s three, at 44-42. The Pacers have made 7 of 15 at this point.
Michal Bridges returned to localize the Troops and put the Suns back up 51-46 in the second three of the game. He now has 14 points on 6-8 shooting and there are approximately 2.5 quarters to go.
Pacers timeout. And just like last time, the Pacers improved from timeouts and pulled quickly to a 51-50 lead. McConnell led on a layup when Lee and Biombo misconnected on the defensive assignment, then Aaron Nesmith caught a slow pass. He missed a layup but more Pacers returned than Suns, getting three clean tries on the edge.
McConnell began killing the Suns defense on drives and punts for the open man. There just isn’t enough ball pressure on him with these unusual Suns formations spoiling their duties.
Suns up 59-57 at halftime.
- Both teams shoot well from deep. The Pacers made 8 of 17 threes, and the Suns made 6 of 10.
- Suns leaders: Michael Bridges has 14 points and 3 assists. Bismak Biombo has 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Josh Okoje has 10 off the bench.
- Pacers Leaders: TJ McConnell has 11 points, 7 assists and 2 steals. Ben Mathurin has 12 points off the bench.
the other half
The Suns started the second half with Josh Okoji in place of Dario Sarek. The Pacers stayed in the game with their three-point shooting, which put the Suns on bad keys.
Hield continues to get lost on the Suns defensive runs, and made his fourth to put the Pacers ahead 73-71 with half of the third quarter remaining. Suns out. Pacers are now 11-for-22 in triples. For the entire season, she’s average on triple sets with an average of 36%.
With the Pacers leading 77-76, McConnell is now up to 11 assists, along with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. He just broke the Suns D, who has to focus on wherever Buddy Hield floats. Sabine Lee, Dwayne Washington Jr. and Damion Lee didn’t do well at containment.
Sabine Lee, of all players, made a few triples to keep the Suns in the game when they were scrimmaging, and his powerful painting motion for free throws (on Jalen Smith) put the Suns up 84-83.
Some crazy whoops and good rebounds helped The Suns lead 87-83 going into the fourth quarter. Michael Bridges leads the Suns with 22 points on 9/17 shooting. Four different sun personalities are in double personalities (Mikal, Okoji, Byumbo and Damion Lee) while two others have 9’s (Washington and Lee).
Josh Okoji really has a game on this one. His action is everything the Suns need and more, putting the Suns up 98-90 on the back foot with 6:45 left. He now has 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
Looks like the little ones will be able to put this away.