PHOENIX – They all count the same, but some regular season wins feel bigger than others.
With the Phoenix Suns winning their fourth straight game on Saturday, a 121-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks, it was a win that held the weight of the previous three together.
“I think tonight, for me at least, was the closest we got to a full match we put together,” said guard Landry Shamet.
While Atlanta is now 4-6 to start the year, it came to play. Their young star duo of Trae Young (31 points, 13 assists) and John Collins (26 points, 10 rebounds) performed and pushed across multiple sectors of the game to keep the Hawks moving forward.
After an early 13-7 Suns lead (5-3) Atlanta was never more than five points behind in three quarters, with the majority of baskets scored by both teams, making it a one-ball game or a draw. There were 13 changes of lead and the two sides squared another 20 times.
Leading 86-84 Hawks with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, Young scored or assisted 10 of Atlanta’s next 12 points over a 12-2 run.
That brought the Hawks by a dozen, but never fear, because the Point God was here.
Chris Paul went on his own floor overall crusade of scoring or assisting points with 12 on a 14-8 spurt over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
The crowd lit up, and while the Hawks held the lead at seven with 4:15 to go, the Suns closed with a 15-4 flurry.
Your main focus should be on the four points scored for Atlanta in 4:15.
“Our defense in the fourth quarter and the mentality going into the fourth quarter… the guys are like, ‘one stop at a time,'” said head coach Monty Williams. “There was no panic, and we did. In the end we won the fourth quarter 35-19.”
“We didn’t panic,” Guard Devin Booker said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Booker was the consistent presence to match Atlanta’s stars, scoring a season-high 38 points on 14-of-21 shots.
Paul clocked in an insane +26 in a four point game, registering 16 points and 13 assists.
Deandre Ayton missed one game due to a bruise to his right leg, returned on Thursday but was added to the injury report late Saturday morning and the same issue forced him out.
And for the second straight game that Ayton missed, Frank Kaminsky contributed with fantastic play from the bench. The Reserve Center shot 7-for-10 from the field for 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“It’s a point guard’s dream,” said Paul of his two-man game with Kaminsky. “He knows how to play the bag.”
The Suns only shot 32.6% of the three-point range, while those problems persisted, but that was on 43 attempts, a huge improvement after not having scored more than 32 in the last six consecutive games.
A few players called the team’s pace high, and Booker said he thought it was “amazing” at that pace.
Phoenix closes its five-game homestand on a 4-1 record, and it was a good time for that to happen.
If we include the last two games of the Suns, they have only one or zero days between games for 14 consecutive days. Monday’s trip to Sacramento kicks off a three-week period in which Phoenix will play four games and one back-to-back in each week. Eight of them are on their way.
That means 20 games have been played, a good place in fourth of the season to give us a good indication of where the team is.