The Phoenix Suns were able to bounce back convincingly from a loss Wednesday to the Clippers with a 113-97 victory over the reigning Finals runner-up Miami Heat last night.
Right from the jump, it was evident that the Suns had a much better approach to this game. Phoenix came out looking aggressive on both sides of the ball, shutting down a lot of offensive sets for the Heat and putting up a lot of threes on offense. They cruised to victory after outscoring the Heat 32-20 in the third quarter. The Suns finished shooting over 50% from the field and held the Heat under 100 points. They have now won five of their last six games.
Even without Kevin Durant and Eric Gordon, Phoenix assisted on 30 of its 44 made shots. These assists led to Grayson Allen posting a career high and tying the franchise record with nine made threes. The Suns are 7-1 this season when recording 30 or more assists.
“When our team shares the basketball, the basketball gods reward you,” Suns’ coach Frank Vogel said. “And (Allen)’s always been aggressive. Sometimes we don’t get enough shots for Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen, but we’re training our stars to look for those guys and we’re training our role players to make smart plays with one mores. Like when they have one more to those guys, look for them as well, so Grayson and Eric Gordon as well, we’re trying to get more threes for those guys, and it paid off tonight.”
#Suns coach Frank Vogel: “When our team shares the basketball, the basketball gods reward you”
Phoenix had 30 assists on 44 made field goals tonight in a 113-97 victory over the #Heat
— Brendan Mau (@brendan_mau) January 6, 2024
What Worked for the Suns
Vogel had an extensive answer on what went right for his team this night.
“Really (it was) two things,” Vogel said. “Defensively, probably our best game plan executions of the year, a big point of emphasis after the Clippers game even though there was a lot of guarded possessions where they made tough shots. Our game plan execution could’ve been better and I thought our guys responded tonight and maybe had the best of our year.
“This team is very difficult to guard even with (Jimmy) Butler out. Like I said, they won the last five-of-six without Butler and our guys really brought it on the defensive side of the ball. Held them to under 40 points in the paint, I think 36-points in the paint. The point of emphasis is that we’re trying to get better at with containment, with our gaps, with our low-man commitment, whether it is a low-man small or a five who is blocking shots at the rim, our paint defense is getting better.”
Vogel echoed this defensive sentiment to his team in the locker room after the game.
"The game plan execution, the best we've had all year… The trust offensively is building every game."
🎥 Hear from Head Coach Frank Vogel following last night's win! pic.twitter.com/cNtt4pNlIC
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 6, 2024
He also spoke on how connected the team looked offensively.
“Offensively, it’s the trust,” Vogel said. The trust and trying to get the right guys the right shots, more shots for our laser three-point shooter, Grayson Allen. He gets 14, goes 9-of-14. Bradley (Beal) and (Devin) Booker got some and then those guys we wore in the back to some of the role players. Trust is building, 30 assists, Book and Brad, 19 assists between the two of them and those two things combined, I was happy with the overall performance and we closed it out. There were times that we’ve been up 15, 20 points and allowed teams to get back in it, so that’s another step for us as well.”
Limiting Tyler Herro
Speaking to the defensive aspect, the Suns held the Heat’s leading scorer in Tyler Herro to only nine points on 4-of-17 shooting. As a team, Miami shot 41% from the floor and 27% from three after seemingly every team that comes into Footprint Center shoots the lights out.
“You got to chase him inside the three-point line and then swarm him as best you can,” Vogel said of guarding Herro, “which is difficult to do with Bam (Adebayo) as the roller because the more you commit off of Bam, then he gets going behind. So they got a lot of guys who can hurt you. Like I said, this is not an understate of how excited I am about holding that team under 100 points.”
The Suns’ Top Contributors
For the Suns, Allen finished with 31 points, four assists, four rebounds and two blocks. Bradley Beal had arguably his best game yet for Phoenix, posting a near triple double with 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting, nine assists and eight rebounds. Devin Booker also was a major contributor finishing with 20 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals.
— Burn City Suns Talk 🎙️ (@BurnCitySuns) January 6, 2024
After being included in the Deandre Ayton trade at the end of September, less than a week before the team’s media day, nobody could have expected Allen to have this big of an impact for the Suns so far this season, including Vogel.
“I always loved his game,” Vogel said of Allen. “I was surprised that he was in he was (included in the trade), I don’t know if he was a late addition, but I was surprised that he was a part of it. And I was like, well, that’s a heck of a piece. I was disappointed about losing (rookie Toumani) Camara, but to get Grayson Allen in that, I was really excited about (that).
“I didn’t foresee the way he’s played for us this year; I think he’s exceeded all of our expectations from that standpoint. A great part of the trade.”