The Phoenix Suns avenged their Game 7 loss and finally got some “get-back” after dispatching the Dallas Mavericks, 107-105, to open their 2022-23 campaign.
The Sun-Mavs season opener nearly brought up still-fresh and painful memories from Game 7 for Phoenix as they fell behind by 22-points in the first half. However, the Suns fought back in the second half and rallied for a monumental win to start the season on a high note.
“We still have 81 games to go. I said that before the game. It’s a good start. I think it’s a good start to show our team if we’re down early that, we can come back in games.”
2⃣2⃣-PT COMEBACK.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) October 20, 2022
Tonight marked our largest comeback since 2017. pic.twitter.com/2oqt671FK9
Phoenix’s ability to rally and win a closeout of a tight game late in the fourth should come as no surprise when you remember why they became the overall last season. The Suns went 33-9 in clutch games, defined by the score being within five points in the final minutes.
The comeback effort can also serve as a rallying point after a dramatic offseason full of front-office chaos due to team owner Robert Sarver’s season-long suspension and decision to put the Suns and Mercury up for sale. Not to mention the tense negotiations and apparent cold feelings Deandre Ayton has towards Coach Monty Williams. The starting lineup also had some turnover after Jae Crowder decided not to play out the final season of his contract while the front office seeks a trade partner.
Powering through. pic.twitter.com/t1C1MPyFO9— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) October 20, 2022
All the offseason theatrics were a backdrop to the fact that NBA scheduled Phoenix and Dallas for their season-openers after the Mavericks not only embarrassed but ended the Suns’ season with a debilitating Game 7 loss for the ages.
“I think any time you win in the NBA, it’s cool,” Williams said. “But to beat the team that knocked you out, it doesn’t erase that feeling, that hurt, but it does help you grow.”
The Suns’ comeback bid began with Booker (28 points and nine assists) checking back into the game with his team down 15 points. The two-time All-Star scored seven points and handed out six dimes during the fourth quarter. However, the true hero of the game was Damion Lee, who scored 11 of his points in the final frame, including his game-winning fadeaway with 9.7 seconds left in the game.
Damion Lee!!! Tuff shot. pic.twitter.com/tUST6cKmQn— SLAM (@SLAMonline) October 20, 2022
Lee, a championship veteran, was a casualty of the Warriors’ decision to invest in their future this summer. He signed a veterans minimum deal during the League’s free agency period and has immediately made an impact as a reserve guard. The 29-year-old guard more than made up for giving up a game-tying and-1 layup to Doncic by hitting his game-winner.
Lee was also given a boost of confidence by Williams during Phoenix’s ensuing timeout.
“Coach just looks at me, and he said: ‘Hey, go make a play. Go make a play,”‘ said Lee, who is now 2-of-9 on tying or go-ahead field goals in the final minute during his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. “That’s what you want — a coach that’s always going to instill that confidence in you, no matter what happens.”