After losing the third straight game to lose 8-8 on the season, a frustrated Chris Paul stated it clearly about the Phoenix Suns’ current situation: They need to play better.
“We’re not…” Paul began, pausing briefly, “just playing well enough. I’m not going to say we’re not good enough, but we’re not playing well right now.” Huh.”
With a 102–97 drop at home on Wednesday, Paul’s former team fell on the Oklahoma City Thunder with Phoenix going the wrong way with Phoenix in the final three minutes. The Thunder finished on an 11–2 run, with the Sun missing their final six shots.
Paul, who surprisingly led the Thunder to a 5-seed last season after a brilliant clutch-time play, scored a season-high 32 points in 35 minutes against OKC. But two clear looks in the final 20 seconds did not fall, the first going mid-order change, which moves out of the rim, and the second a possible dam straight 3 that catches all the air.
The last two matches without Sun All-Star guard Devin Booker caused no hamstrings. While the team has missed its scoring ability, coach Monty Williams refused to accept anything, or anything, as an excuse.
“Until this team understands consistency for four quarters, we will feel the same,” Williams said. “We can try to make everyone feel sorry for us. It’s not going to work. We’re constantly meeting. It’s for us.”
Williams clearly increased the availability of his two-minute postgame, harp on the Sun’s need for continuity.
“Down the stretch, we had an incredibly poor finish,” he said. “We have open shots, shots missing from under the basket. It’s just poor. Poor execution and poor finishing. That’s it.
“At some point, you just have to finish the game and understand what to do to be a really good team” Consistency. “Period. This is the deal.”
Williams made it known if he would ask a question from that point on, he would answer in the same way: consistency.
Williams said, “Whatever you ask me, I’m going to say ‘continuity’.” “Oh! That is the matter.”
The Suns led by 15 at the end of the first quarter. But with sluggish turnovers and steady offense, he scored just 10 points in the second quarter to take a 21-4 lead by OKC.
As Paul goes to do, he calmly settles into the game, defering early but outspoken himself late. He led the Sensation late in the quarter by scoring 13 points, but Phoenix collapsed due to defensive laps and poor offensive possessions.
“We play in spruce,” Paul said. “We have got the respect we are playing every night. Respect the opponent. They pay just like we do.”
For Paul and Sun, a promising start to the season has slipped over the past three weeks. The addition of Paul appeared to help maintain the momentum built with his undefined bubble run, but his season interruption with a three-game break from health and safety protocol and then Booker’s injury has stopped it.
The Suns have lost five of their last six games, with all of their recent losses to near-term calls – back-to-back overtime games against the Denver Nuggets not going their way, four points for the Memphis Grizzlies Loss of five points to OKC.
Paul said, “I’m trying to figure out how we can win.” “Because the loser gets old.”