During the Phoenix Suns’ now 15-game losing streak after a 134-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night, they’ve lost on buzzer beaters three different times.
They’ve also been losing in dispiriting fashion consistently.
In the first 14 losses of the streak, the Suns were being outscored by an average of 15 points per 100 possessions. The New York Knicks, who have now lost 18 straight, have a less glaring net rating of being outscored just over 11 points per 100 possessions.
The Suns’ defensive rating in that stretch is a sky-high 118.6, and the defense being the biggest of the many problems for the team was illustrated in Los Angeles.
Despite Phoenix shooting 50 percent in the first quarter, they trailed by 10 points because the Clippers were more efficient and taking care of the ball better.
The Clippers reached the 80-point mark with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter to make it a 25-point deficit for the Suns. Not quite the response head coach Igor Kokoskov was looking for out of his team that was down 16 at halftime, and Los Angeles hit triple digits for 100 points through three quarters.
Devin Booker had one of his worst games of the season, starting out 0-for-4 from the field and not scoring until there was 6:33 left in the second quarter and that came at the free throw line. He finished with 10 points, and once again showed visible frustration at his teammates on the court. In the fourth quarter, Booker looked checked out of the game, on auto-pilot and not looking to assert himself as he usually does, even when the team is down 20-plus late.
At one point, the Suns were in the game. Down only 11 in the late second quarter, Deandre Ayton, Jamal Crawford and Kelly Oubre Jr. had it rolling, but the defense was poor as usual and a combined 0-for-9 shooting performance from Booker and Tyler Johnson was the other advantage for the Clippers.
Speaking of Johnson, the lefty can’t find his shot in Phoenix. Entering the game 5-for-21 from the field in his first two games, Johnson shot 1-for-6 after being questionable due to a right ankle sprain.
Crawford finished with 17 points and Oubre added a career-high 28.
Ayton had an encouraging first half of 14 points and five rebounds. The Suns actively sought him out and were rewarded for feeding Ayton the ball.
He showed off a new, fancy spin move out of the post.
In what has been a problem all year, though, the consistency of Ayton’s involvement wasn’t there.
Whether that’s on Ayton, his coach or his teammates, it continues to be an issue.
Ayton had only six points and three rebounds in the second half.
Three-point shooting also remains a weakness of the Suns.
After posting an 8-for-30 number Wednesday night, the Suns are now shooting 121-of-418 for a 28.8 shooting percentage during the losing streak.
The Clippers shot 59.5 percent from the floor.
The Suns are off for the All-Star break and return on Feb. 21 in Cleveland against former Suns Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight and the Cavaliers.