Suns struggle through injuries and fourth quarter woes
The Phoenix Suns are off to a lackluster start this season, and their biggest nemeses haven't been the Golden State Warriors or the Denver Nuggets — instead it's injuries and the fourth quarter.
The big picture: The Suns are 4-6, a far cry from the start fans were hoping to see from a team with high hopes of winning its first NBA championship.
- They're in 10th place in the Western Conference.
State of play: Injuries have plagued the team, sidelining star Devin Booker and offseason acquisition Bradley Beal for most of the first 10 games.
- Booker played in the season-opening win against Golden State, missed the next three games with an ankle injury, and has been out since with a calf strain he suffered against San Antonio.
- Beal missed the first seven games with a back injury, returning for a Nov. 8 win against the Chicago Bulls.
Zoom in: Beal and Booker's absences have been particularly noticeable in the fourth quarter, where the Suns have been outscored in seven of 10 games.
- Oklahoma City outpaced Phoenix 31-13 in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss, and the Lakers beat the Suns 28-11 in an Oct. 26 loss.
- The Suns are averaging 21.8 points per game in the fourth quarter this season, ranking them dead last in the NBA.
1 big star: Kevin Durant, last season's superstar trade acquisition, has been carrying the load offensively, putting up 30 points per game, along with 7.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
What's next: Booker is expected to return to action Wednesday when the Suns host the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Arizona Republic reported.
- Beal tweaked his back injury against Oklahoma City on Sunday but is also expected to play Wednesday against Minnesota.
- Guard Eric Gordon also missed Sunday's game with left shoulder soreness but may play Wednesday as well.
Why it matters: This will be the first time that Phoenix's big three of Beal, Booker and Durant play together.
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