The Phoenix Suns hope to have two of their star players back when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday in the first of back-to-back meetings in Phoenix.
The Suns have not had their power trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal on the court together through the first three games. Beal has not played in the regular season as he deals with a back injury and Booker has missed the past two contests with a foot sprain.
Durant is more than doing his part to keep the ship afloat, scoring 39 points in a 100-95 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 26 and then pouring in 26 as the Suns beat Utah 126-104 on Saturday in their home opener. Durant made 8 of 11 shots in the win against the Jazz and played just 29 minutes.
Suns coach Frank Vogel lauded Durant’s performance and willingness to share the ball.
“He did a phenomenal job early in the game facilitating for his teammates,” Vogel explained. “And then everybody else gets involved, makes a couple shots and then they’re a little charged up more on the defensive end and he doesn’t have to do so much.”
Eric Gordon added 21 points for the Suns while Grayson Allen had 17, 14 of them in the third quarter when Phoenix took charge. Drew Eubanks and Jordan Goodwin scored 12 points each off the bench and Jusuf Nurkic tallied 10 points as the Suns shot 52.9 percent from the floor.
Vogel declined to go into specifics or share updates on Booker and Beal beyond saying the players are working hard with trainers. Both will be game-time decisions to play on Tuesday.
The Spurs head to Arizona after being dismantled on the road by the Los Angeles Clippers 123-83 on Sunday. It was San Antonio’s first as visitors after splitting two contests at home, and the Spurs were anything but ready for the challenge, trailing by 14 points in the first quarter, by 19 at the half and by as many as 34 in the third.
“It’s an education — on the road, it’s different from playing at home in the NBA,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “If you start out poorly, you can’t get poorer. You can’t lose your ability to compete.
“Playing embarrassed sort of speaks because you’re quickly getting your butt kicked. You got to fight your way out of that. You got to stick together.”
Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 14 points, just two of which came in the second half, with Cedi Osman adding 12 off the bench and rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama hitting for only 11 points in 26 minutes of court time. San Antonio committed a season-worst 25 turnovers.
“It’s not about how bad the struggles are going to be, but how persistent we’re going to be,” Wembanyama said after the loss. “I wouldn’t see any reason to be frustrated three games into the season, but it is a learning experience.”
The teams will also play on Thursday in Phoenix.