Suns: Loss to Wemby-less Spurs 'unacceptable'

SAN ANTONIO — Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal didn’t mince words on Monday night following a disappointing performance.

The Suns, two days removed from beating the San Antonio Spurs by 25, played the same team in the same arena, and this time the Spurs were missing star rookie Victor Wembanyama.

Yet the Spurs flipped the script with a 104-102 victory.

“It’s disappointment,” Beal told reporters after the game. “We came in here and laid an egg. We thought it was going to be easy with no Wemby. Just got our ass kicked. They came out aggressive, just like Coach told us they would, and we didn’t respond. Well, we did, but we didn’t withstand their punches.”

The loss sent the Suns to 42-30 on the season. It was also their third loss in four chances against the Spurs, who are the last in the Western Conference.

“It’s just unacceptable to lose that game,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “For our guys, we all said the right things. We all did the right preparation. But we didn’t play with the necessary focus in this position throughout, I would say, the first half.”

Phoenix now sets off on the toughest final stretch of any team in the NBA while in the midst of a tight race to stay out of the Western Conference play-in. The Suns’ final 10 opponents have a combined winning percentage of .648.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it’s the toughest final 10-game stretch since the 2015-16 Memphis Grizzlies, who had two games each against the 67-15 Spurs and the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.

When asked a question about the schedule, Vogel abruptly answered.

“We like our chances against anybody,” he said. “We don’t worry about the schedule.”

Phoenix tried to take command in the third quarter, but the Spurs answered with a 16-2 run over the end of the third and start of the fourth to seize the lead.

San Antonio led by nine with 4:49 to go, but the Suns roared back and took the lead by the 2:09 mark. With 51.8 seconds remaining, Devin Booker hit two free throws to put the Suns up 102-101.

San Antonio answered with a 3-pointer by Jeremy Sochan with 29.2 seconds left to retake the lead. Phoenix opted not to take a timeout — and did get looks by Booker and Kevin Durant, but both missed, giving the Spurs the victory.

“We knew they were going to play harder [than Saturday’s game] and we knew they were going to play with more focus,” Durant told reporters. “They got momentum at the end of the third and kind of cruised from there. The game is about momentum.”

Sochan finished with 26 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for San Antonio.

“I’m not into disrespecting our opponents,” Booker said about the Spurs not having Wembanyama. “These guys are NBA guys. There are some talented young players over there. … We weren’t unprepared. We knew what to expect.”

Beal left the game with 2:51 remaining and did not return because of a sprained right ring finger. He said the finger, which had been hurt before, got caught in someone’s jersey and was “pretty painful.”

He does think he’ll be able to go in the Suns’ next game against the Denver Nuggets. Vogel said X-rays were negative on Beal’s finger.

Beal wasn’t the only Suns starter to leave the game with an injury. Starting center Jusuf Nurkic was injured with 9:08 remaining in the third quarter and did not return because of a sprained right ankle.

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