Suns Notch Season Highs in Points & Assists in Victory Over Nets

Devin Booker Nets
by Cody Cunningham

After falling to the Miami Heat in their previous game, the Phoenix Suns looked to bounce back to their hot start as the team tipped-off against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night.

From the jump, the Suns looked like a team on a mission to prove that Thursday’s game was just a bump in the road. The Suns drained 10 of their first 11 field goal attempts, including 10 points (and two three-pointers) from Aron Baynes to open up the game with a 20-point lead midway through the first quarter. 

The ball movement was key from the start with Ricky Rubio paving the way. Rubio notched seven of the Suns first eight assists as the team finished the first quarter with 10 assists to just two turnovers and leading 37-30. 

The Nets battled back into the game in the second quarter, drawing their deficit to just two, but the Suns held strong and never surrendered their lead.

One of the most critical moments of the game came with just 6.4 second left in the first half. The Nets went to inbound the pass, but Mikal Bridges showed off his 7’1” wingspan reaching straight in the air to swipe away the pass. Bridges rushed the ball up the court, found Frank Kaminsky inside, who quickly dished it back out beyond the arc to a wide-open Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre’s quick release was just in time as he drained a three-point buzzer-beater to end the half and extend the Suns lead to 18. Oubre finished the first half perfect from the field (6-of-6) with 16 points, including two threes.

The Suns backcourt took over the game in third quarter as Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio combined to score 21 of the team’s 38 points in the frame and went up by as many as 29 to begin to put the game out of reach. Ultimately, the Suns held onto their 20-plus point lead throughout the fourth quarter and closed out the game with a 138-112 victory.

The Suns improve to 6-3 and their best nine-game start to a season since 8-1 in 2009-10 on their way to the Conference Finals that year. The Suns have a positive scoring margin of +70 through nine games this season, the 6th-largest through nine games in franchise history and their largest since they were +107 points through nine games in 2004-05.

Head Coach Monty Williams matches Paul Westphal, Alvin Gentry and Terry Porter for the best nine-game start to a coaching tenure in Suns history.

TOP PERFORMERS

Booker: 27 points, 10-14 FG, 4-5 3P, 9 assists

Rubio: 22 points, 10-16 FG, 12 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 steals

Oubre: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal 

Baynes: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists,  2 blocks

Cam Johnson: career-high 15 points, 3-5 3P, 6 rebounds, 1 steal

Tyler Johnson: 14 points, 2 assists

KEY STATS

The Suns shot 19-of-42 from three-point range tonight with the 19 makes being a season high and tied for the fourth-most in a game in Suns history (most since 19 vs. Dallas on Oct. 17, 2018). Seven different Suns players made multiple three-pointers tonight (Baynes, Booker, C. Johnson, T. Johnson, Oubre, Šarić, Rubio)—according to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first game in Suns history where seven different players made 2+ three-pointers.

The Suns had a season-high 37 assists tonight while committing a season-low 7 turnovers. This is the Suns’ most assists in a game since recording 40 in an OT win vs. Minnesota on April 11, 2011. This is the Suns’ first time recording 37+ assists and 7 or fewer turnovers since also having 37 and 7 in a win vs. Minnesota on March 16, 2010 (Basketball-Reference). 

The Suns scored a season-high 138 points tonight. This is the Suns’ most points in a game since scoring 138 in an OT win at New Orleans on March 16 last season and most points in a non-overtime game since scoring 152 in the same win vs. Minnesota mentioned in the previous note on March 16, 2010. 

The Suns shot 52.5% from the field and improve to 5-0 this season when shooting 50% or better. 

Rubio recorded season highs with 22 points and 12 assists. This was Rubio’s fifth double-double through his first eight games of the season, and his second game with 20+ points and 10+ assists (19th career). Rubio had 0 turnovers—his 12 assists were the most by a Suns player with 0 turnovers since Goran Dragić had 13 assists and 0 turnovers at Orlando on Nov. 24, 2013. 

Baynes scored 14 points, extending his career-long streak scoring in double figures to eight in a row (his previous long was three straight) and he shot 2-of-4 from three-point range, extending his career-long streak making a three-pointer to nine in a row (his previous long was four straight).

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

COACH WILLIAMS ON SUNS’ BALL MOVEMENT: “What’s not to like? It was a big-time effort on our part to do what we do: share the ball, we have to have a we-score mentality. I thought Ricky set the tone. I thought his tone, to keep it moving, body movement, ball movement, and I don’t think he had a turnover tonight. It’s a huge effort to be able to share, move, and stay within our sets and play free. We’ve talked about discipline a lot the last two days. I’m really proud of our guys, they showed resiliency when Brooklyn came back, and we just stayed with it and pushed the lead up to 18 at halftime. We showed some fight, made a ton of shots, but I just thought the discipline we showed tonight and our identity is we play hard, we share the ball, and we defend, so that’s something we have to hang our hats on every night.” 

BOOKER ON CROWD CHANTING ‘MVP’: “It is nice to hear. I am more excited about the fans having something to cheer for, us playing winning basketball and competitive basketball every night. That has been the fun part.”

RUBIO ON BALL ON EVERYONE FACILITATING: ““We moved the ball. When we were making shots, of course, that helps. We kept moving the ball even when we weren’t making our shots. We played super unselfish. That is super fun to play.”

NETS HEAD COACH KENNY ATKINSON: “The biggest issue was the Suns. They dominated us in every fashion. They were unbelievable, we were obviously sub-par and not up to our standards and when you have that kind of disparity, you can lose by 30 on the road.”

WHAT’S NEXT 

The Suns will look to continue their hot start as they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.

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