Despite missing more than 48 combined points per game from players who were out, the Suns bolted to a 73-47 halftime lead.
Devin Booker scored 24 points, Jalen Smith tied a career high with 19 points and 12 rebounds and the short-handed Phoenix Suns hammered the Charlotte Hornets 133-99 on Sunday night. Chris Paul had 16 assists to help the Suns improve to 28-8 – a half-game behind Golden State for the NBA lead – after they lost three of their previous four.
SUNS WIN! pic.twitter.com/I5NeEmYAqq
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 3, 2022
The Suns got 11 points and six rebounds from Bismack Biyombo, who signed a 10-day contract Saturday with four Phoenix players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, including starting center Deandre Ayton, starting forward Jae Crowder and backup center JaVale McGee. Coach Monty Williams also is out.
Paul said acting coach Kevin Young talked to the team after the morning shootaround about their lack of physicality in a 123-108 road loss to Boston on Friday.
”We knew it,” Paul said. ”So we wanted to come out strong first and foremost on the defensive end.”
”This was all you can ask for, especially after you just took it on the chin against Boston,” Young said. ”Sometimes as a coach in your heart you feel like you are doing the right thing and you think it’s going to resonate, and when it does come to fruition it’s rewarding.”
Biyombo, playing in his first game of the season, made an easy transition into the Suns’ rotation, including a dunk off an alley-oop lob from Landry Shamet. Biyombo played 18 minutes against his former team.
”He fit in better than I even would have hoped,” Young said. ”… I had a really good feeling that he would be able to help us. He’s the ultimate pro and knows how to play at both ends. He was awesome.”
Shamet added 17 points, Mikal Bridges had 15, and Cam Johnson and Cam Payne 14 each. LaMelo Ball had 17 points for the Hornets. They had won three in a row.
”They got off to a great start and they were a hungrier team,” Hornets coach James Borrego said about the Suns. ”They looked like a team that had lost three in a row and we looked like a team that had won three in row. They handled their loss better than we handled our win.”
Despite missing more than 48 combined points per game from players who were out, the Suns bolted to a 73-47 halftime lead behind 20 points from Booker and 10-of-22 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
Phoenix led by 43 in the second half.