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Suns overwhelm Nets in Brooklyn to extend win streak to 16 in a row

·5 min read
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  • Brooklyn Nets
    Brooklyn Nets
  • Phoenix Suns
    Phoenix Suns

BROOKLYN — The nearly five-hour trip from New York to Phoenix will be one of the most satisfying flights in Suns recent history.

The Suns not only won their 16th consecutive game Saturday night in beating the East-leading Nets 113-107, but they did so 24 hours after blasting the Knicks by 21 points at Madison Square Garden to complete a four-game road trip.

Phoenix pulled within one victory of tying the franchise record for consecutive wins as they led Brooklyn by as many as 22. And the Suns (17-3) did it inside Barclays Center against Nets coach Steve Nash, who was part of the Suns' longest win streak of 17 in the 2006-07 season.

Just like Friday night, Devin Booker set the tone from the start in scoring 16 of his team-high 30 points in the first quarter.

Chris Paul hit big shots in delivering 22 points, and Mikal Bridges made an even stronger early case for All-Defensive team with how he guarded James Harden, who finished with just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday's win that sets up a showdown with Golden State (17-2) for the NBA's top record.

1. When Paul and Monty Williams gave All-Defensive endorsements for Bridges, it felt too early.

May have to rethink that after seeing Bridges come up with a career-high seven steals, be all over the floor and guard two of the game's best scorers ever in Harden and Kevin Durant.

Bridges mostly guarded Harden but had some moments against Durant and got one of those steals from behind on the MVP candidate.

But Bridges did most of his work on Harden. Picked him up full court. Forced turnovers. Harden finished with a game-high seven turnovers.

Forced tough shots. Showed how much times have changed since his rookie year.

There was one trip late in the game when Bridges guarded Harden into a miss and Durant into a kickout pass for 3. Patty Mills made the 3, but on next trip, Bridges guarded Durant again and Durant misfired.

And by the way, Bridges also scored 13 points.

Booker put up numbers, Paul did what he does and the bench came up big, but Bridges was the difference maker.

2. Harden had 13 rebounds and 14 assists, but without Kyrie Irving, what the Nets need from him and Durant are big scoring nights.

The vibe Nash gave off during pregame is that the Nets are finding their way without Irving, who has yet to return to the team after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

So while Brooklyn has the best record in the East, Irving's absence begs the question of how good would they be with him.

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Harden could get away with being a facilitator with Irving on the floor. Without Irving, the Nets just don't have enough firepower to beat a team like Phoenix that has so many scoring options and can defend in being ranked in the top 10 in offensive (6th) and defensive rating (3rd).

Even Durant scoring a game-high 39 points on 28 shots wasn't enough. The Nets need Harden to deliver to beat the NBA's best.

The Suns are certainly that as they improved to 9-1 on the road.

3. JaVale McGee talked to Deandre Ayton throughout the game as the starting big had a tough night defending LaMarcus Aldridge on the perimeter.

Ayton seemed a step slow all night in allowing offensive rebounds and not handling the ball well in the paint. McGee helped offset that in posting his third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The 7-footer has scored at least 10 points in six of his last seven games. His latest outing was on a sore right ankle.

He continues to be the biggest offseason addition for the Suns.

Devin Booker has scored at least 30 points in three straight games for the Suns.
Devin Booker has scored at least 30 points in three straight games for the Suns.

4. Jae Crowder continues to come up with a huge rebound in key moments.

At Cleveland, Crowder dug one out in traffic late in the game. At Brooklyn with the Nets making one final rally, Crowder followed up a Booker air-ball miss with a putback to give Phoenix a nine-point lead with 56.5 seconds left.

He only scored five points and missed six of his seven 3-point attempts, but again came up with a winning play.

5. The stage is set.

Even if the Warriors lose Sunday to the Clippers, Tuesday's matchup against Phoenix will be for the league's top record.

It will be the first of three games within 30 days as they face each other Dec. 3 in San Francisco and Christmas Day back in Phoenix.

They say the first game off a road trip is tough, but the Suns will have two days between Saturday night's win and Tuesday's big-time showdown with Warriors.

It's on.

Follow Duane Rankin on Twitter @DuaneRankin.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns run win streak to 16 after overwhelming Nets in Brooklyn