Oubre Scores 27 Points in Suns Comeback Win Over Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks hold the best record in the NBA and hadn’t lost twice to any other team in the league… Well, that was until Monday.
The Phoenix Suns defeated the Bucks back in November when Jamal Crawford hit a game-winning bucket on the road. The two teams took the court for a rematch as the Suns looked to prove that they aren’t going to just lie down for the final month of the season.
“After All-Star break, a lot of teams can shut it down, but we’re not,” Devin Booker said. “It felt like a new season for us. Me and Kelly were just talking, we wish the season just started right now. We’re ready for it.”
The Suns were going to need to that mindset throughout the entirety of the game as a hot start from the Bucks pushed Milwaukee up 16 early in the second quarter. For Booker, he knows runs are going to happen in the NBA, but what matters most is how you respond to them.
“That was one of our problems early on,” Booker said. “When teams would go on a run, it would be all downhill from there, but that’s the time you need each other most. We locked-in.”
While facing a double-digits deficit, the Suns continued to be aggressive on both ends of the court. They responded to the Bucks push with one of their own as they closed out the first half on a 10-0 run, making it just a two-point game heading into the break.
Booker knocked-down a three-pointer to tie it up just a couple minutes into the second half and the game quickly became a back-and-forth affair throughout the third quarter.
The Bucks began to heat up as the fourth quarter began as they reached double-digit leads twice in the final frame. But once again, the Suns continued to fight.
“Resiliency. We’ve been really learning that,” Oubre said. “That’s one of the biggest things that I think that we can take away from the games that we’ve played is that we’ve got to stick with it for forty-eight minutes.”
Booker hit another three with under three minutes remaining to give the Suns their first lead in the fourth and the team never looked back. Kelly Oubre Jr. joined Booker from deep as the duo went back-to-back from beyond the arc and slowly began extending their lead in the final minutes.
Oubre followed this up with the play of the game on the defensive side of the court.
With the Suns clutching on to a four-point lead, the Bucks checked-in the ball to Brook Lopez with thirty seconds remaining as the big man stood in the corner. Oubre pressured him and swiped the ball off Lopez’s knee as it rolled out of bounds for the turnover.
Clutch free throws from Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton and Oubre seaked the victory as the Suns defeated the Bucks 114-105. After falling to the Jazz on Saturday, this marked the first time all season that the Bucks had lost back-to-back games.
“It was a great feeling,” Oubre said. “It’s in us every game when we step out on the court. We stuck with it for forty-eight is the only difference. So, I’m just really happy that we came out with this win.”
Oubre scored a game-high 27 points on 50 percent shooting to along with a career-high 13 rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
“Man on a mission,” Ayton said about Oubre. “And we were all on the same mission right behind him. He set the tone and, you know, just crashing the glass and showing that physicality and intensity early. And once you spread energy like that…the team catches on to that.”
After going head-to-head with LeBron James on Saturday, Ayton had another tough matchup guarding MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo all night on Monday. Ayton once again held his own against one of the league’s premier talents.
“I felt very comfortable and confident he was going to be okay with those matchups,” Head Coach Igor Kokoškov said. “He’s a very mobile big, lateral movement was never his issue. He was playing four (power forward) in college just last year. I never had doubt that he was going to be okay.”
Ayton notched his rookie-leading 34th double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds while also blocking three shots.
Tyler Johnson and Josh Jackson were both huge for the Suns on the defensive side of the court as Johnson tied a season-high with four steals and Jackson tallied two blocked shots and a steal as well. As a team, the Suns had a season-high ten steals and it was their first game since Jan. 2014 with at least ten blocks and ten steals.
The Bucks have the third highest field goal percentage this season at 47.8 percent, yet the Suns managed to hold them to an opponent-low 36.8 percent on the night.
Offensively and defensively, the addition of Johnson and Oubre has provided the Suns two players for the young group to learn from that continuously battle and don’t back down from adversity.
“That’s playoff basketball,” Booker said. “They’ve been there before. They’ve been in the atmosphere and they know what it takes to win. They’re not scared of anything, as they shouldn’t be.”
Booker scored 22 points while also dishing out a game-high seven assists in the win. Now winners of three of their last four, Booker sees the mindset of the team continuing to shift in a positive direction.
“We’re clicking, playing the right way,” Booker said. “Every game, we feel like we’re going to win. So, you can feel the energy in the locker room, you can feel the energy on the court. We see it. We’re just playing with high passion, high energy and a winning mindset. So, everyone’s helping each other out, making each other better and talking to each other.”
The Suns will look to make it three straight wins as the New York Knicks come to town on Wednesday. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.