Booker: ‘This is what we need’ after loss to star-less Grizzlies

Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Friday, April 1, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

“This is what we need.”

Suns superstar shooting guard, Devin Booker, put it simply when talking to his guys.

A night that started with dances in the pregame layup lines and hopes of setting a new franchise record in wins, ended in disappointment for Phoenix.

Even with their top three players inactive, Memphis successfully defended the Grindhouse against the Suns, 122-114.

“They outplayed us,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “That was the key to the game. Their approach and our approach was two totally different zip codes.”

It’s a loss that featured an element that usually plays in Phoenix’s favor: hustle.

The Grizzlies outworked the Suns from the opening tip, finishing the night with 16 offensive rebounds and 30 second chance points.

Stack that up next to Phoenix’s mere two offensive boards and two second chance points, and the result of the game is not surprising. 

“We have to figure it out,” Booker, who dropped 41 points, said. “No matter who we played against, what players they rest tonight – they came here and they beat us. I’d rather it now than later down the line.”

Another uncharacteristic aspect of the game was the lack of ball control for the boys from the desert.

With a leader like Chris Paul at the helm, they usually average around 12 turnovers per game but that was inflated to 17 in Memphis.

“They took us out of a lot of stuff we wanted to do,” Paul said. “I gotta figure out how I can be more effective…Take your hat off to them. Give them the credit. Next one.”

Moving forward, this year’s Suns have goals that stretch beyond getting that historic 63rd win.

Losses like these can put things in perspective when targeting the big-picture goal of winning Phoenix’s first NBA title.

“Everybody wants to win a championship but you can’t skip steps,” Williams said. “I think you have to go through tough losses like this to learn and understand that you can’t just show up. We won nine in a row…you could say ‘well, you were due.’ We weren’t due for that.”

The gut check reminded the Suns how they got here; by doing it together.

“That’s not who we are. That’s not who we’re going to be,” Williams said. “It’s not like, ‘Coach you gotta fix this,’ or ‘Chris you gotta fix this,’…We have to fix the mentality of playing to our standard.”

As they prepare for their next challenge, they know history is at their fingertips.

“The franchise record is still on-line,” Booker said. “That’s definitely something we want. That’s no secret.”

Their next opportunity to notch win No. 63 will come Sunday at 4:00pm against the Thunder.