Young Phoenix Suns making strides during early stages of season

Devin Booker gets career-high 38 points in road victory over New Orleans Pelicans

Scott Howard-Cooper

The Suns’ 112-111 overtime win Friday in New Orleans was the latest in encouraging news for Phoenix, a team enjoying a string of positive developments despite the bad record and an important victory despite the winless opponent.

Any Suns victory is important, of course, in what could be a long season of growing pains for a roster meshing youth and experience. But improving to 2-4 by getting past the 0-6 Pelicans behind 38 points from Devin Booker and 18 rebounds by Tyson Chandler also meant something in the big picture, as the close to a week when Phoenix was mostly either victorious or competitive against a quality opponent.

Last Friday – A 113-110 loss in overtime in Oklahoma City.

Sunday – A 106-100 loss to the Warriors in Phoenix.

Monday – A 116-98 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles. The one time the Suns couldn’t at least stay close.

Wednesday – A 118-115 overtime win against the Trail Blazers in Phoenix on Eric Bledsoe’s buzzer-beating three-pointer. Not a bad way to record their first victory.

Friday – The win in New Orleans.

These are the weeks, even the defeats, that will help sustain the Suns when, if expectations hold, they are staring up from deep in the standings. Being able to stay in games against projected playoff teams and even some of the best in the West would be encouraging anyway, but especially as Phoenix is giving minutes to 23-year-old T.J. Warren, a very early candidate for Most Improved Player, 20-year-old Booker and 19-year-old Marquese Chriss.

Now comes the chance to build on it: the Suns face the Lakers and Nets within the next four games, along with the Trail Blazers and Pistons.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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