Moore: Phoenix Suns' Game 7 loss was so bad that it stains the legacies of all involved

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The game was over by halftime, and it was a performance so humiliating that it has stained the legacy of everyone involved.

The Phoenix Suns lost to the Dallas Mavericks 123-90 on Sunday night at Footprint Center, losing their Western Conference semifinal series in seven games.

The Suns were down 57-27 at halftime.

They were down 30 points. At halftime. In an elimination game. At home.

Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul combined for six points at halftime.

The entire Suns starting five had 15 points at halftime, and by that point Dallas guard Spencer Dinwiddie had come off the bench to score 21 by himself.

It was the most disappointing end in recent memory for Phoenix sports fans.

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May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz. U.S.; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) is defended by Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals at Footprint Center.
May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz. U.S.; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) is defended by Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals at Footprint Center.

It was worse than the Cardinals getting blasted by the Rams in last season’s playoffs. The Cardinals weren’t a No.1 seed going into the playoffs.

Kyler Murray threw an underhanded interception in that game. But it wasn’t as baffling as the reality that Devin Booker didn’t make a shot from the floor until the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.

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It was worse than fourth-seeded Arizona’s loss to 13-seed Buffalo in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Deandre Ayton has the unfortunate distinction of having been on both squads. Back in college, Ayton scored 14 points on 13 shots. On Sunday, he had five points on five shots.

It’s worse than the reality that Safford’s UFC star Justin Gaethje has lost two in a row in his home state, including getting choked out in the first round earlier this month. Mixed martial arts simply doesn’t have the history and cultural penetration of NBA basketball.

The blowout threatens to undermine all the Suns have accomplished under James Jones and Monty Williams.

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May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives around Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.
May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives around Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

The Suns lost in six games in the NBA Finals last season after taking a 2-0 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks.

This year, the Suns lost in seven games after going up 2-0 on the Dallas Mavericks.

Following the Suns in their championship bid? Download the free azcentral.com app for the latest news.

I’d say that Booker, Ayton and Paul disappeared, but I don’t have any evidence that they actually showed up.

Fans started streaming out at the end of the third quarter, and midway through the fourth, the arena looked as empty as it had during the low points of the Ryan McDonough-Earl Watson-Jay Triano-Igor Kokoskov era.

There was even a “Let’s go, Mavs!” chant.

It had to feel like sweet revenge for Kokoskov, who is now an assistant coach for Dallas.

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After the Suns set a franchise record for victories, the team started selling shirts that read “64 was never the goal; it was just a byproduct of refusing to lose.”

That shirt was on display during the game, but the spirit that inspired it wasn’t.

These are the moments that define players, teams and eras.

Ayton, Booker and their homegrown teammates Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson are young enough that they can come back from this. For them, their careers might be divided. Everything from here forward could end up being remembered as AD, “after Dallas.”

Paul might not ever have a better shot at a title.

He finished with 10 points.

Read more: Suns point guard Chris Paul has tough ending to great season

May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) react during game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.
May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) and Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) react during game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

Dallas’s Luka Doncic put up 35. Dinwiddie finished with 30. Jalen Brunson had 24.

Johnson was Phoenix’s leading scorer. He had 12.

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It was so bad that it ended with Dallas’ biggest player, Boban Marjanovic, trying to go after Phoenix’s smallest, Aaron Holiday.

Holiday stole the ball from Marjanovic in the waning moments and hit an inconsequential 3-pointer.

Marjanovic clapped for Holiday, derisively, and the two had words heading off the court before they had to be separated.

It was embarrassing.

Humiliating.

It was so bad that it could stain the legacy of everyone involved.

Reach Moore at gmoore@azcentral.com or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Moore: Phoenix Suns' Game 7 loss stains legacies of all involved