Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Playing in their final game of the 2013-14 season, the Phoenix Suns scrapped out a 104-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings to end their year on a high note.
It may serve as a bittersweet moment, but these Suns got a taste of what it took to compete with the league’s best over the past six months and they certainly loved the tidbits they got.
With nothing to play for on Wednesday evening but the admiration of a live audience and all the fans back in Phoenix, some lesser-known Suns got to spread their wings.
On the night of game 82, Phoenix Suns fans discovered that the Slash Brothers may have an extended family member. Coming out of seemingly nowhere, Archie Goodwin dropped 29 points on just 11-for-13 shooting, including going 6-for-7 from the free throw stripe. At only 19 years of age, Goodwin showed off to Phoenix brass as to why he was so highly regarded coming out of Kentucky, a member of the fabled “one-and done” system.
Although it has been the Markieff show all season long, brother Marcus wanted to let everyone know that he could hoop as well. Although Markieff is representing the twins proudly with high consideration for the Sixth Man of the Year award, Marcus polished off his last game of the year with 22 points and six rebounds. For those wondering, the Suns do have a litany of mid-round selections in the upcoming NBA Draft. Perfectly slotted for those selections?–potentially the Harrison twins from the University of Kentucky.
Luckily, for the Suns, DeMarcus Cousins picked up his 16th technical foul of the season in the Kings last outing, rendering him suspended for Wednesday evenings contest. The last thing the majority of the interior players wanted to go up against was the immovable object that Cousins is.
Cousins’ scoring was deflected off to the rookie out of the University of Kansas, Ben McLemore. Taking over at the conclusion of the game, McLemore finished with a game-high 31 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Being swept under the rug by the national media is the feel-good story of Channing Frye, who started all 82 games this season. Battling back from so many injuries and a sometimes-inconsistent shooting stroke, Frye was a stable force in the Suns attack all season long.
Ending the year with 48 wins and 34 losses may have pinned them a single game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but it would be inaccurate to say this season was a failure in any stretch. Projected to finish near last by every so-called “expert” from all over the country, the Suns proved the doubters wrong, and perhaps even stunned themselves. Enough credit cannot be given to first year head coach Jeff Hornacek, who has spearheaded the process of returning Phoenix basketball to its lost prominence.
With a meaningless victory in Sacramento, the Suns will slink away into the off-season where they will attempt to improve on the impressive work they put forth this season. Although the Western Conference stays perpetually chockfull of talent, anyone counting out the Phoenix Suns now would be kidding themselves.
Consider the future ignited.