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The Suns played their first game in a week and dropped an extremely winnable game, 108-104, to a depleted Memphis team in a loss that could haunt them later in the season.

Prior to tipoff, we learned Monty Williams made an adjustment to the Suns starting lineup by plugging in Cam Johnson for Jae Crowder, which is likely to be the big talking point coming out of the game aside from Devin Booker’s poor shooting night.

First Half
It was an understandably slow (and sloppy) start to the game as Phoenix looked to find its’ rhythm in the first 4 minutes or so, but after an Ayton throw down and Paul bullet pass to Bridges in transition that led to a Memphis timeout they looked more settled in.

Jevon Carter and Cheap Frank Kaminsky Jersey combined for three quick 3 pointers off the bench which led to a Memphis timeout yet again. Cheap Devin Booker Jersey really struggled in his first 10 minute stint, going 1-for-7 with 1 turnover and a technical foul. The first quarter was finished strong after a pair of triples from Cheap Jevon Carter Jersey and Chris Paul to close the quarter with the Suns leading Memphis 24 to 18. The Suns did a magnificent job on Morant in the 1st quarter, holding him scoreless on 0-3 shooting with 3 turnovers.

Chris Paul and Cheap Deandre Ayton Jersey hooked up for a nice pick and roll alley oop that many Suns fans envisioned they’d see a lot more frequently this season.

The Suns really struggled to find any consistency throughout the first half, as they would rely on a few hot streaks to keep them afloat after many cold stretches. Booker was mostly nonexistent and a negative impact in the 1st half, and they were held together through the strong play of Deandre Ayton and the bench’s strong three point shooting. Heading into the half the Suns trailed Memphis 52-48 after leading by as many as 10 points.

Second Half
Phoenix struggled mightily to start the third quarter as they tried to force feed Deandre Ayton which led to choppy game play and a series of carless turnovers. Cheap Jae Crowder Jersey hit a couple threes to keep them hanging around midway through the quarter.

Deandre Ayton had (in my opinion) the most impressive dunk of his career that really shifted the momentum of the game.

The defensive intensity for both teams picked up quite a bit towards the end of the third quarter with a lot of long possessions late in the shot clock from both teams. Heading into the 4th and final quarter Memphis led by a pair with the score sitting at 77-75.

The start of the 4th quarter had a better flow offensively for both clubs as it went back and forth, trading buckets quickly. Cheap Chris Paul Jersey started to play bit more aggressive hitting a couple mid-range jumpers and Cam Johnson drilled two threes to start the quarter off.

Phoenix pulled ahead by 6 points after a Cam Payne three and Cheap Mikal Bridges Jersey transition drive after a missed dunk by Brandon Clarke.

After Memphis cut the lead down to 2, Jae Crowder made an excellent pass on a cut by Mikal Bridges who had a chance to make a three point play by missed the free throw.

Booker missed a dunk and then a three pointer on consecutive possessions which allowed Memphis to recapture the lead at 101-98 after he left Grayson Allen wide open. A series of unfortunate events. They made one last push at the end after a Mikal Bridges three, but Grayson Allen sealed the deal at the free throw line and it was too little too late.

Star of the Game
Deandre Ayton: 18 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block on 7-of-14 shooting.

Despite the loss, this was by my favorite offensive game from Ayton this season due to how he scored his points. He completed a season-high of 5 dunks, including a couple posters and made a couple assertive moves off the dribble that got him to the charity stripe. He also controlled the game on the glass, making a ton of winning plays when they needed him most. If only the rest of the team showed up.

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Meet Abdel Nader.

The other guy in the Chris Paul trade.

The Phoenix Suns didn’t send four players with two being starters Cheap Kelly Oubre Jr. Jersey and Ricky Rubio and a future first-round pick to Oklahoma City last month for just the All-Star veteran point guard.

They also got Nader, a second-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Iowa State who brings shooting, hustle, a team mindset and isn’t concerned about how he’s being viewed in the Paul trade.

“At this point in my career, it’s kind of just I’m competing to be the best basketball player I can be and that’s really how I approach it every day,” said Nader, who started his NBA career with the Boston Celtics in 2017-18. “Not really worried about what other people are saying.”

Oklahoma City’s Abdel Nader (11) reacts after scoring a 3-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Garett Fisbeck).
Born in Egypt, Nader is averaging just 4.5 points in his three NBA seasons, but averaged a career-best 6.3 points last season with the Thunder and made an impression on Paul in their first season together in Oklahoma City.

“He’s just a consummate team player,” Paul said. “He’s going to do whatever Coach asks him to do. If that’s defending the best player, he’s going to run hard. He’s going to compete. He can really shoot it. Just the consummate team guy.”

MORE:Phoenix Suns: Monty Williams declines to comment on Cheap Jae Crowder Jersey status

The Phoenix Suns started to practice on Saturday, so three days in, what does All-NBA point guard Cheap Chris Paul Jersey think of his new squad?

“I’m getting a chance to see first hand why they were so good in the bubble and the jump that they made from the season to the bubble,” he said Monday. “I think that’s what’s been really cool to see — to see Cam Johnson, to know Cheap Jevon Carter Jersey before I got here. Just to see how many hungry guys we got. I talk about E’Twaun Moore and Cheap Langston Galloway Jersey a lot because I played against them for years — to see, like I know they can hoop, but to see what type of guys they are in the locker room already is gonna be big for our team.”

Head coach Monty Williams is going to find the balance of maintaining that successful style from Orlando and implementing Paul’s all-world talents into his gameplans.

“He saw the way we played and that may have been appealing to him,” he said. “We like to think we’re a team that plays a certain way and that may be appealing to some guys. At the same time, I want to tweak a few things to fit his skill set.”

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It seems like an extension of the bond formed in the bubble has carried over as a foundation that has the team clicking. When Paul was asked what has impressed him the most thus far, it was that.

“The camaraderie that we sort of built already,” he said. “Through team group texts … our team seems like we’ve been together for a while just because we got guys that want to compete, want to work hard but you can tell everyone enjoys being in the gym.”

The relationship Paul forms with Cheap Devin Booker Jersey on the court and off will dictate the team’s success, and Paul isn’t going to overcomplicate things there. When asked if there’s anything now on a day-to-day basis he’s eager to work with Booker on or wants to see Booker improve on, he kept it simple.

“Nothin’,” he said with a laugh. “I ain’t looking for nothing … I think his presence, his demeanor — one thing about Book is that he commands respect from everybody from just how he plays the game and how he carries itself. All the other stuff will take care of itself because he puts the work in.”

Easy enough!

CROWDER’S STATUS UNKNOWN
Williams was asked about new forward Jae Crowder’s status being a player that just got done with a long playoff run in the bubble and said the following:

“I can’t comment on Jae’s situation right now. I’m just gonna leave it at that.”

Williams said Saturday he would not comment on whether players did or did not practice in fear of violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement, a more relevant issue with potential COVID-19 cases now a reality.

Williams held the same stance in the bubble, and the public did not learn that Cheap Ricky Rubio Jersey and Cheap Aron Baynes Jersey tested positive for coronavirus until they themselves told the media. With practice in the Orlando bubble that season and the Zoom era of media availabilities continuing for everyone’s safety, reporters are obviously not physically present to see if a player is in attendance, as they were previously before the world flipped upside down.

Starting six games last season, the 6-5 forward shot 37.5% from 3, which is also a career high.

“You got a guy who is kind of a young player despite being in the middle of his career,” said new Thunder coach Mark Daigneault about the 27-year-old Nader. “I still think there is a ceiling for him as a player He obviously can really score the ball, he’s an aggressive scorer, but he’s a really good guy. Really good teammate and has great humility. He’s always trying to improve and he’s willing to put the work in to improve.”

Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker, left, tries to shoot past Oklahoma City Thunder’s Cheap Abdel Nader Jersey, center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP).
Nader said he didn’t really know what to think about the trade at first, but was happy Paul was part of it as Oklahoma City sent those two to Phoenix for Cheap Ty Jerome Jersey, Cheap Jalen Lecque Jersey, Oubre Jr., Rubio and a future first-round pick last month before the draft.

“I’ve been traded before so I’ve kind of been through this already once,” Nader said. “I was happy to hear that C was coming with me because me and him have built a relationship in the past so having him here with me has made that transition much smoother.”

Nader later said he’s was excited about the trade.

“I haven’t really spent time in Phoenix but I knew (the Suns) had a nice, young unit with a lot of talent,” Nader said. “Ability to grow. Also the city sounds like a nice place to me. I wasn’t complaining too much.”

Nader’s NBA career started in the G League as he earned G League Rookie of the Year playing for Boston’s Maine Red Claws. He then played one season for the Celtics before being traded to Oklahoma City for Rodney Purvis going into the 2018-19 season.

Boston Celtics forward Abdel Nader shoots in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola).
Nader spent the next two seasons with the Thunder. He posted three double-figure games in the bubble, scoring 15 in an 128-101 loss to the Suns.

Now he’s in Phoenix looking to find his role.

“I really don’t know (his role) on the team,” Nader said. “Just trying to play. I think we’re all trying to play. It’s a new group of guys. So I think we’re all trying to play and figure out how we can help each other and how we can fit together.”