The Phoenix Suns stunned the team with the NBA’s best record — again. Down by as many as 16 in the first half and 10 in the fourth, the Suns fought back to upset Milwaukee, 114-105, at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Monday.
“I think we found the grit and confidence to compete with these guys, and it as nothing but the trust of the guys have in each other and fighting till the last minute,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. “Just finding a way to land the plane, find a way to score in crunch time in the fourth quarter was big for us. Total team effort and I’m happy for our guys.”
Phoenix (14-51) stunned the Bucks, 116-114, back in November on a Jamal Crawford jumper with 0.8 seconds left. The Suns didn’t need those heroics this time as they’ve won three of their last four games since losing a franchise-record 17 straight games.
“This was the No. 1 team and we wanted this win, straight up,” Suns rookie 7-footer Deandre Ayton said. “We just wanted this one. Everybody said it was luck.”
Kelly Oubre Jr. led Phoenix with 27 points and 13 rebounds (five offensive) while Devin Booker added 22 points and seven assists.
“It’s a great feeling,” Oubre said. “It’s in us every game we step out on the court. We stuck with it for 48 (minutes). That’s the only difference. I’m just really happy that we came out with this one.”
NBA MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo paced the Bucks with 21. “It’s kind of hard to think we lost to Phoenix twice, but they played better than us,” Antetokounmpo said. “They came out there and set the tone. We had the lead and we lost the lead and they deserved to win.”
Phoenix isn’t playing like a team that has the second-worst record in the NBA, just ahead of New York (13-51).
The Suns won at Miami, felt they should’ve beaten New Orleans and pulled off consecutive victories against LeBron James’ Lakers and the mighty Bucks. “It just says a lot about this team,” Booker said. “We’re not backing down to anybody. After the All-Star break, a lot of teams could shut it down, but we’re not. It feels like a new season for us. Kelly and I were just talking. We wished the season just started right now. We’re ready for every game. We’re coming at teams and we’re ready for it.”
The Suns erased a 16-point, first-half lead as they closed the half on a 15-4 run to trail by only two. The Suns led, 70-67, off a Tyler Johnson steal and breakaway jam, but the Bucks finished the third on a 15-6 spurt to go up 82-76 going into the fourth.
That included the last eight points of the quarter as Malcolm Brogdon scored the last five. The Bucks (48-16) extended their lead to 91-81 early in the fourth, but Phoenix once again rallied back with a 17-5 run to take a 100-98 lead with 2:37 left.
Booker capped the run with a 3. “I don’t think we take them as seriously as we should,” Brogdon said. “It’s just a lack of focus.”