New comeback kids: Phoenix Suns show life and fight to remain the hottest team in West

Kevin Durant’s game-winning shot Monday against the Chicago Bulls keeps the Phoenix Suns rolling in the Western Conference. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Grayson Allen sees shades of old Golden State Warriors teams in the Phoenix Suns, and it is not just because of Kevin Durant.

The Suns have created a new no-quit identity halfway through the 2023-24 NBA season. No matter the score or circumstance, coach Frank Vogel’s team is proving it won’t give up until the final buzzer.

The Suns exude many similarities to the Warriors’ dynasty, which won four NBA titles and six conference championships since 2015. Durant helped Steph Curry & Co. win back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, but Allen’s take on Phoenix goes deeper than the identical superstar on the team.

“Those Golden State teams, if they hang around, they’re gonna have their 10-to-15-point explosion,” Allen, the Suns guard, said with a big grin. “They can hit four threes and be right back into it.”

In the past week, the Suns have been no different. On Jan. 16, they put together a historic comeback against the Sacramento Kings after a loss seemed all but inevitable with Phoenix facing a 22-point deficit in the middle of the fourth quarter.

The Suns flipped the switch though, getting multiple stops in the fourth quarter and locking in on the defensive side to hold the Kings to only eight points in the last eight minutes of the game. The comeback was fueled by the four blocks and three steals the Suns caused. Phoenix could not miss either, as the Suns drained six 3-point shots during the run.

The defensive impact, paired with crucial 3-pointers from Suns guard Eric Gordon, Allen and Durant, held the group together and ultimately led them to a 119-117 win.

Vogel was pleased with not only how his team performed on the court physically but also its mentality. Even with a poor offensive outing in the first three quarters against Sacramento and the Kings not letting up offensively, the Suns knew they needed to keep their heads up if they wanted any chance of winning.

“We stayed in the fight mentally,” Vogel said following the game. “I’m proud of how our guys stayed together and stayed in the fight.”

The Suns needed to keep that mentality going forward because on Monday, only six days later, the Chicago Bulls presented similar challenges at Footprint Center. Facing a 23-point margin in the third quarter, Phoenix again found a way to pull out a narrow win, this time beating the Bulls 115-113.

Phoenix won despite questionable scoring performances from the Suns backcourt, including Bradley Beal and Devin Booker who combined for only 34 points. A continued bright spot though is Allen, the flamethrower. He continued to prove why he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA as he finished 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. The real star of the game, however, was Durant.

Durant put an exclamation mark on the rally by capping off his 43-point night – 17 of which came in the fourth quarter – with the game-winning shot with two seconds left.

“We were a little sluggish missing our shots [in the first half]. We just tried to stay the course,” Durant said after the win. “It’s another comeback win, and I love it.”

Phoenix fans love it too. After a shaky start to the season, the Suns now hold the sixth seed in the Western Conference with an overall record of 25-18 going into Wednesday night’s game at Dallas. The Suns also currently hold the longest win streak in the Western Conference with six straight wins.

If past performances hold true, Durant and the Suns will make teams uncomfortable all season long, even if they have a large lead against Phoenix. To let up on the Phoenix Suns is a mistake that other NBA teams are learning not to make, as the Suns prove to be the hottest team in the Western Conference.

Mason Byers(he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Mason Byers expects to graduate in December 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Byers has contirbuted to the East Valley Tribune.