Suns come up short against 2nd-seed Kings

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Devin Booker and the Suns had an opportunity to notch a statement win against the second best team in the West – the Sacramento Kings.

The playoff atmosphere fueled an exciting matchup at Footprint Center.

“They played hard,” Booker said. “You gotta give them credit.”

Just as he does so often, Booker got rolling early.

Phoenix was clicking offensively, going up 17-6 in the first.

The lead would never grow larger than that, however.

“We had so many ‘my bads’ and blown coverages tonight,” head coach Monty Williams said. “It just stacked against us.”

“It was a good game,” Chris Paul said. “[They] made big shots when they needed to.”

26 team fouls made it difficult for the Suns to sustain momentum.

“That’s how the whistle went tonight.” Booker said. “Have to put our energy in the right place. Easier said than done while you’re out there.”

They sent the Kings to the charity stripe 37 times in the 128-119 loss.

“We just gotta be more solid all-together,” Paul said. “We got them to the bonus early.”

While Booker led the way with 28 points and 8 assists, Chris Paul put up 16 points and 16 assists of his own and Deandre Ayton finished with a double-double (22 points, 12 rebounds).

That’s to be expected, though.

What Phoenix will need if it hopes to make a deep postseason run, is performances like Terrence Ross (18 points) and Josh Okogie (15 points) delivered.

Role players make the difference, and that was the case tonight for Sacramento, as Mike Brown’s bench outscored Monty Williams’ 65-34.

It came down to defensive execution down the stretch and the Kings called checkmate.

“Too many holes to dig out of tonight,” Williams said. “I didn’t think we played with the sharpness and game plan discipline that it takes to play against a team that’s hungry.”

The Suns head to the Bay as they face the Golden State Warriors on Monday at 7:00pm.

Here’s Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy and Suns’ Cam Payne doing their second jersey swap (featuring D-Backs’ Pavin Smith) postgame: