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Home » Suns Soar Past Nets Behind Ayton and Bridges

Suns Soar Past Nets Behind Ayton and Bridges

08 February 2023, Wednesday
Tuesday night saw the Brooklyn Nets take on the Phoenix Suns, who were returning Devin Booker on a minutes restriction and got a mere nine points from Chris Paul. Despite the Nets being without their star forward Kevin Durant, they managed to overcome the Suns, shooting 48 percent from the field and making 27 free throws. While the Suns have previously been lambasted for their offensive struggles, the considerable output from Brooklyn ultimately doomed them in the loss.

The growth of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges is vital, as evidenced by their stunning performances in the Suns' 116-112 victory. The calls for them to be featured more prominently in the Phoenix offense have been plentiful, and if no major trades occur before the Thursday deadline, the team will likely be relying on nights like this one from Ayton and Bridges in the post-season.

Deandre Ayton had yet another impressive performance on Monday night, tying his career-high with 35 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, shooting 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the field. This marked the second consecutive game in which Ayton had posted at least 30 points and 15 rebounds on a shooting percentage of 75% or higher; making him only the fourth player in NBA history to do so, as reported by Stathead.

Mikal Bridges had a career night, scoring 21 points to help the Phoenix Suns take down the Los Angeles Lakers in a thrilling 103-99 victory. Bridges poured in 15 of those points in the third quarter, adding 8 rebounds for a strong overall performance.

Meanwhile, Deandre Ayton was an equally important factor, with his scoring production by quarter standing at 6, 11, 9 and 9 points. Ayton was able to get his offensive production largely through running the floor, setting hard screens, and establishing a presence near the basket. The Suns' offense is designed to find its big men, and Ayton proved to be up to the task of getting open and helping lead the team to victory.

It was obvious from the start that Ayton was mindful and purposeful in his performance. This was highlighted most notably in one of the night's biggest moments.

Ayton didn't have to be scoring for it to be visible how he was aiding winning on the offensive end. Take a look at how he was creating space here for Paul.

In addition, the Suns will focus on getting Ayton the basketball in midrange and deeper, especially against teams that go with switches like the Nets.

The Phoenix Suns were up by seven points with four minutes left in the game and Booker missed a three-point attempt. Ayton was quick to grab the loose ball and drive to the basket for an and-one. Meanwhile, Bridges has developed a lot of confidence recently, leading to 11 20-point games in his last 13 outings. With Booker back in the lineup, Bridges will need to make some adjustments to ensure both him and Booker receive their appropriate reps.

When the ball is anticipated to go to Booker, he often takes advantage of the defenders who are draped all over him by turning them into an effective screen. As was the case in a last-shot-of-the-quarter situation, Booker used this technique to set up a downhill drive for Bridges leading to an and-1.

The offensive injection provided by Ayton and Bridges through the course of a close game ultimately allowed the Suns to secure the victory in the fourth quarter, despite the typical late-game shenanigans. 

In recent times, Monty Williams has given Bridges additional responsibility as a primary ball handler and also placed a larger emphasis on Ayton's involvement in the team's system, which has been essential to their growth.

Booker, who played for 26 minutes, contributed 19 points (6 of 15) during the game, showcasing the fact that he has maintained his touch, even though he is still trying to get back to peak physical form.

Phoenix has been on a roll of late, having won nine of their last eleven outings, and their latest was a 119-104 victory over Brooklyn. Led by Paul’s nine points and twelve assists, as well as five steals and two blocks, plus fourteen points from Cam Johnson, the Suns managed to move up to fifth in the Western Conference standings, just 1.5 games out of third. For the Nets, Cam Thomas continued his sensational streak with 43 points, making it three consecutive games of 40 or more. Despite not yet finding a specific role with the team, Thomas has once again taken full advantage of the latest Kyrie Irving situation and will certainly be given an extended look ahead of the playoffs.
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