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Suns’ shocking lack of urgency continues in loss to Bucks

The Phoenix Suns are playing like they have the luxury of time. At least, that's a kind way to interpret his energy over the last two games.

But they don't have time to become the contender they should be and figure all that out by avoiding the play-in tournament. And Sunday's 140-129 loss to a Milwaukee Bucks team without star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was due to an infuriating lack of urgency in the 68th game of the season.

Phoenix started the game getting what it wanted offensively with good pace, which likely lulled it into a false sense of security after Milwaukee's quality of looks wasn't as high. The Suns defense after that first nine minute story relaxed immensely and continued to allow tremendous downhill pressure from Damian Lillard to open up threes elsewhere.

Bobby Portis was one of Milwaukee's average or below-average shooters who got space. As soon as he and his team got hot, Phoenix's complete inability to adapt by driving the Bucks off the line burned them. Portis scored 25 points in his first 10 minutes and Milwaukee hit a total of 15 3-pointers with 3:30 left in the second quarter. Again, most of this was effort.

The Suns continued in that haze to give up an 18-for-27 3-point mark in the half compared to their own 3-for-13 output to fall behind by 22. The Suns have no chance of making more 3-pointers in a natural way than It doesn't feel forced. They clearly tried in Friday's slow win and were overcompensating in a way that bogged down the offense. The only thing they can do is negate the amount of three-pointers other teams make, but it usually starts with Phoenix's poor on-ball defense that requires shooter rotations. It is a compiler effect.

Anyway, these are all December adjustments. It's mid-March. The play-in tournament begins four weeks from Tuesday. They are who they are now.

Suns head coach Frank Vogel broke the emergency glass he usually does in grim situations, taking out Jusuf Nurkic and going small. This change midway through the third quarter resulted in an immediate 11-0 run in less than two minutes to reduce the deficit to 10. A big push led by Bradley Beal cut it to six before a 9-0 run by Lillard. At the end of the quarter, Phoenix fell back 15 points heading into the dreaded fourth quarter.

Another Beal-led surge brought it within seven before Milwaukee hit four 3-pointers in two minutes and turned to counter that effort to stay up by double digits, extending the lead to 14, as well as the dagger.

The Suns are now 6-7 since the All-Star break and their 29th loss of the year puts them eighth in the Western Conference standings, one ahead of the Sacramento Kings in sixth and tied with the Dallas Mavericks in seventh. who lose in a tiebreaker. to.

Lillard was the man all afternoon. His numbers are down this year and he certainly won't be the All-World guy he was in Portland throughout his tenure in Milwaukee, but he's still one of the best guards on the planet. He finished with 31 points and 16 assists. Portis also added 31 points.

Both Devin Booker and Kevin Durant lacked their usual high-level impact for the third straight game. Neither of them scored 25 points in any of those games.

While the Suns' last three outings have generated little to be positive about, this was again another good performance from Beal. It's worth repeating because of his importance and how staying healthy to maintain a season-best pace will continue to make a difference by giving him a dimension that Phoenix hasn't previously had. Beal's line was 28 points and seven assists.

Due to the small lineup that was available for most of the second half and the quest for a failed comeback, Durant played 41 minutes and Booker scored 40. Phoenix was playing its third game in four days, but the margin was even tighter. due to the quick change to an afternoon game on Sunday.

The sky is blue, the grass is green and the Bucks scored 24 points off 14 Phoenix turnovers.

Milwaukee got a rare look at its team without Antetokounmpo, as he was recently able to play with a left hamstring issue before sitting out Sunday for the third time all season. The Bucks improve to 3-1 in those games. One boost was the return of Khris Middleton after he missed 16 games with an injury suffered against the Suns in Phoenix on Feb. 6. Middleton looked fresh with 22 points and seven assists.

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