The Phoenix Suns will look to shrug off a ragged defensive performance and a loss at home to one of the league’s worst teams when they travel to San Antonio to play the struggling Spurs on Sunday.
The Suns head to San Antonio on the heels of 122-121 loss on their home floor to Houston on Friday in which they squandered a 16-point third-quarter lead and a 41-point scoring game by Devin Booker.
Phoenix had four shots to win the game on its final possession — including a 16-foot attempt by Booker at the buzzer — but missed them all.
“Shots guys make, work on in practice and all that,” Phoenix’s Damion Lee said. “Just a tough game. Basketball, make or miss league. Missed ’em this time.”
Booker has averaged 45.3 points a game in his past three contests, including a season-best 51-point showing at home against Chicago on Wednesday.
Mikal Bridges added 22 points for the Suns in the loss Sunday, with Cameron Payne hitting for 20 points and 12 assists.
“Offensive rebounds and free throws (were the difference). In the fourth quarter they scored 36 points,” Payne said. “We’ve got to keep them off the boards, off the free throw line.”
Friday’s loss snapped a six-game winning streak for a Phoenix team that has reached the top of the Western Conference standings, even though Chris Paul missed his 12th straight game with right heel soreness.
The Spurs have endured one of the most difficult stretches in their 50-year history, dropping 10 consecutive games — most recently a 117-99 decision to New Orleans at home on Friday. The Spurs’ losing streak is their worst since 1989 when they lost 13 straight.
After starting the season a surprising 5-2, San Antonio is just 1-15 since and is looking for its first victory since Nov. 11.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating. It’s tough. We’re a young group,” San Antonio’s Devin Vassell said. “My biggest thing right now is keeping everybody’s head up. It’s tough for anybody. You lose 10 games in a row you’re not going to be sitting here smiling and laughing.”
Vassell led San Antonio with 25 points in Friday’s loss to the Pelicans, with Keldon Johnson scoring 15, Charles Bassey adding 11 and Keita Bates-Diop and Romeo Langford 10 apiece. The Spurs led at halftime and by 67-63 with 4:22 to play in the third quarter but then surrendered an 18-4 run to end the period and never threatened again.
“For the most part I thought their spirit was great,” San Antonio acting coach Brett Brown said. “For the most part we executed a game plan and played them (Pelicans) with a level of purpose.”
San Antonio was shorthanded Friday, missing starters Jakob Poeltl (right knee) and Jeremy Sochan (right quad) and key reserves Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott (both with right ankle sprains).
The Spurs will be without Gregg Popovich on Sunday after the coach underwent a minor medical procedure earlier in the week that also kept him off the bench for Friday’s loss. Popovich is expected to return to the sidelines when San Antonio hosts Houston on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media