Phoenix Suns strikers Michal Bridges and Kem Johnson had a conversation on the flight from Detroit to Indiana. Among the topics were their best overall games and high careers so far in their young career in the NBA.
“I told him on the plane yesterday that he had to do it today, and I knew he was coming,”
The wing of the second year is quite the prophet. Bridges had 34 career points, lifting the Suns to their best offensive performance of the season for their best win of the season, a 125-117 final over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
The Suns had a staggering 33 assists and just three turnovers, with this second number setting a franchise record. And the context reinforces how impressive the effort is.
Phoenix played the night after their heaviest loss of the season to the Pistons, in which three different starters – Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker and Chris Paul – played at least 37 minutes. Saturday was the second back-to-back game on the road and against the Pacers, one of the best teams in the league.
In addition, the reserve defender of the point Cam Payne, who was a star this season, was out due to a sprain of the right ankle. This meant that head coach Monty Williams could either put another player in the rotation or adjust it. He chose the latter, with Booker or Paul managing the offense for the entire 48 minutes, as they spent less time on the floor than throughout the season.
The results were pretty good!
“These two guys make it so easy for us,” Williams said. “They see the game the same way. They can score, but they see their partners outside and take advantage of the opportunities. We had 33 assists tonight, only 3 turns, I think partly because these two had the ball for most of the game, starting a foul. “
Williams said the Suns have run away more than usual, mentioning that perhaps this is something they need to do more for Paul, especially with his abilities in that appearance.
The game had 14 changes in the lead in the first half. The Suns found their modjo and fifth gear in the third quarter, and if it wasn’t for Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis, it would have been a blow.
Sabonis had 20 of his 28 points and nine of his 22 rebounds in the third. This eased some of the pressure Phoenix had with 34 points in the third quarter, but continued to come in with another 35 in the fourth.
This was led by Booker, who had the world’s first performance as a Suns player this season during a crisis. Booker was exceptional, creating an open look or noting almost every possession, doing so with relentless energy.
“It simply came to our notice then. We really get to scrapping and following teams, and when that energy level goes up, I think we can be pretty dangerous and we’ve been pretty dangerous, “Johnson said.
Williams said the game’s signature was stealing Booker’s incoming pass and stabbing it early in the fourth quarter.
Book entered the game at 98-96 with 9 minutes to go.
He reads the entry here and throws it away.
– David Kevin (@theIVpointplay) January 10, 2021
This bucket put the Suns up to six with 7:56 to start and it was the start of a 15-4 run for four minutes that Booker placed or scored each point.
Whirlwind bird signal again, same game.
Spain PnR, but this time with Jae.
This is the game play for mine. Reserve the threads, pass on the exact moment when Sabonis “returns” Ayton back to Turner. pic.twitter.com/sKugnn09h8
– David Kevin (@theIVpointplay) January 10, 2021
Don’t let Booker’s average statistical night – by his standards – of 25 points and seven assists fool you.
It was the return of the “bad man” sections we saw from Booker in the balloon, the last form Booker reached when he single-handedly took over and won matches late.
The Suns had only two free throw attempts at the end of the first half, but finished with 17, making it all.
Paul had 15 points and 10 assists. He and Booker had zero revs.
Bridges, not Ayton, Booker or Paul, was the first Suns player to score 30 points this season. He was sensational, attacking the basket with extra equipment like a slasher we haven’t seen before.
As you can see from these highlights, Bridges can recreate many of these baskets. His ability to get an easy 15 points per night without threes, transition opportunities and rim attacks drastically changes the team’s offensive dynamics.
Paul speaks loudly about Bridges when asked how he feels when he sees Bridges have this type of night.
“Man, one of the best feelings. I’ve played a lot of guys in this league over the years and he’s one of the best guys I’ve ever thought I’ve been around, “said Paul. “So seeing him do well and seeing his game flourish as it is is good because he deserves it.”
Paul had more on Bridges, grinning as he made his way through the best way to describe some of Bridges’ personality.
“Except that Michal takes on almost the toughest defensive task at night … he can hoop, nice, but then … he’s a slippery slope. You should watch it. He’s really slippery with his tongue, “Paul said. “Funny person, very funny person to be around. He just has a great spirit for him. “
What Paul achieves is Bridges’ sense of humor and wit, which I can say first hand, even from limited interactions, is great. He is cheerful. After the game, Suns’ locker room watered Bridges with ice water after the game.
And here’s what he had to say about him:
Mikal Bridges, which the brain never forgets. pic.twitter.com/SNEyu6uhIF
– Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) January 10, 2021
“He’s one of those guys (where) when I kick him and he gets his shot, I feel like I did,” Paul said.
Bridges is the person who embodies what the Suns are more about than anyone else on the team.
“His nickname has to be Every Day because he’s the same person every day,” Williams said. “He always has a great attitude, works with his tail, has a great advantage for himself, treats everyone with unrealistic respect and still goes out there on the floor and plays like a footballer, sometimes crazy. I love the balance he has, and I just love seeing guys work hard and get paid.
“He was a bit of a leader for our player development program and I’m happy to see him not only do it offensively, but he does it every night offensively. Even when he doesn’t stop his type, he will give you a lot of effort. This is the basis of our team. We compete every night and try to defend and share basketball. ”
Bridges understood the hard parts. He is a great versatile defender and makes reactionary plays in seconds that take guys from glue like him to another level.
The aggression and confidence with which he plays offensively make him even better in defense. After these events, the sequence in its offensive effect is the next and this is the easiest part! This will come with time.
Bridges solidified as the third best player on the team. The bridges will continue to reduce the impact of number 1, which does not reach its potential, the more it improves. Nights like Saturday, a hard-won win against a great Pacers team that gave the Suns everything they had, illustrate the importance of that.
Phoenix can beat the best shot of most teams when Bridges plays as that.