Playoffs

Gregg Popovich saw this coming: Takeaways from Suns blasting Spurs

Gregg Popovich saw this coming: Takeaways from Suns blasting Spurs

SAN ANTONIO — No 18-point comeback this time.

Not even close.

The Phoenix Suns put away San Antonio, 131-106, Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 18,354 at Frost Bank Center months after losing two in a row to the Spurs in Phoenix.

Devin Booker posted 32 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 30 minutes Saturday while Kevin Durant went for 25 points on 12-of-16 shooting in 30 minutes.

Bradley Beal added 13 points and a game-high 12 assists to tie a season high in 28 minutes. Bol Bol also scored 13 points while Eric Gordon and Drew Eubanks added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

The Suns (42-29) have won their last three games, giving up an average of 107.6 points during this stretch after yielding 140 in last week's 11-point defeat at Milwaukee with 82 coming in the first half.

Keldon Johnson scored 14 points and Victor Wembanyama added 13 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes Saturday to lead the Spurs (15-56), who have the worst record in the Western Conference.

Here are takeaways from Saturday’s game as the Suns and Spurs meet again for the fourth and final time Monday in San Antonio.

Leave no doubt, rest Big 3

Durant and Booker watching the entire fourth quarter from the bench is a welcomed sight for the Suns.

The Suns hadn't had a win of more than 15 points after the All-Star break before turning up a 25-point victory against the Spurs. Their last win of that margin before Saturday came against Detroit, 116-100, in the last game before the break in Phoenix.

With 11 games left, Phoenix needed a win like this. Durant has played 64 games, the most since going for 78 in the 2018-19 season.

Yes, it came against the rebuilding Spurs, but the Suns have struggled to close out teams with a losing record this season.

No problems with that Saturday. The Suns led by as many as 32 to nearly match their biggest lead of the season of 35 on Valentine's Day against Detroit.

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) faces off against San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) in the first half at Frost Bank Center.

Popovich knew what was coming

The Suns were in their fourth and fifth game of the season when the Spurs showed up in Phoenix and took two from them with the first coming back from an 18-point halftime deficit to win by a point on Halloween.

The two wins put San Antonio at 3-2 on the season.

The Spurs have won just 12 games since. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took the sarcastic route before Saturday’s game when asked what they draw from those two wins over Phoenix.

“I think we'll probably beat them the same way we did those first two games,” Popovich said with a smile. “That was preseason, warmup, try to break a sweat for them. We took advantage of it. This is a new day. I think it’ll be a little more difficult to duplicate that.”

Popovich was onto something there, but this was the second of a back-to-back for the Spurs.

So, Phoenix took advantage of that.

The Suns should handle San Antonio again Monday, but it shouldn’t be as easy to do so. Wembanyama is still a nightmare matchup for the Suns. If he brings the energy the Spurs seem to lack Saturday, it could get interesting.

High assists, low turnovers for Suns

The Suns had 36 assists to just 10 turnovers Saturday, but here’s another number that’s just as impactful — 12.

That’s the number of points Phoenix allowed off those turnovers.

Keeping that number low is just as key for the Suns as is the turnovers.

Enter Beal.

Him taking on the point guard role has been huge for the Suns. His one turnover comes off having five in each of the last two games.

He’s changed this season in an unexpected way with his facilitating and defense.

Booker had just two turnovers and Durant didn't commit one. The Big 3 is going to have the ball most of the time. So the fewer turnovers Booker, Durant and Beal have, the better for Phoenix.

Have opinions about the current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Gregg Popovich saw this coming: Takeaways from Suns blasting Spurs

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