It’s only November, but it feels like The Suns are desperate for a win statement against the scorching Golden State Warriors.
Losing Devin Booker to a hamstring injury before halftime, Phoenix was locked in defence, making a phenomenal effort at that end of the floor to take down Steph Curry and Golden State offense.
The win helped the Suns extend their winning streak to 17 games. After the game, a smiling Deandre Ayton was asked about the team’s 17-game losing streak in his rookie campaign in 2018-19.
“See how life goes?” he said with a laugh.
With Booker sidelined, the Suns were only able to collect 48 points after the break, good for 56.2 points they averaged for the whole season on the league’s second best performance per 100 possessions.
To survive, they allowed the Warriors to score a meager 42, especially as Curry only won 12 points all night over 21 shots. The Warriors’ total score of 96 is the lowest of the season, achieving a record 43 games over the 100-point plateau.
Head coach Monty Williams said: “To hold a team like that, they scored 18 points in the fourth half is something we can refer to.
“We are definitely a defensive team that is improving but this is just will and toughness. Not much planning, not much play, our boys are just determined to win.”
Suffocating the dynamic Warriors for extended periods of time, Phoenix conceded just seven points in the final 6:41 of the game, including three returns signed by Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul.
“The tenacity, Chris playing in the 39th minute speaks to his will and dedication to the game. Mikal’s defense, Steph missed a few shots but I think the respect Mikal has for Steph and our team’s defense, we showed him the body. We just had some people step up.”
Defensively ranked sixth a season ago, the Suns have stepped to new heights in the 2021-22 period, entering tonight, second only to the Warriors when it comes to defensive efficiency.
Bridges, who played a key defensive role for Curry, scored 41 minutes that night. He picked up just two points from four shots, but he was by Ayton’s side during the post-match press conference with a huge smile on his face, in the perfect illustration of the group’s selflessness at the moment. .
Coming into the league together via the same draft, Ayton conceded that the 19-63 season, with the current version of the Sun took their 18th win by December.
“We wanted to turn this around since we got here,” Ayton said. “I want to start a legacy of winning in Phoenix. Just have great work. We’re open to taking that constructive criticism, not taking it personally but learning.”
The lesson tonight is to learn how to win without Devin Booker against the top defence. They come across with flying colors.