For those who wish to offer Landry Shamet a public apology, feel free. People with questions about the Phoenix Suns’ depth most certainly did not expect him to carry the team when Devin Booker picked up his fourth foul at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Without Shamet’s showcase from beyond the arc, the Suns aren’t able to even their second-round series with the Denver Nuggets at 2-2 with a 129-124 victory.
The Nuggets and Suns put on a shot clinic
The shot-making in this game was truly mind blowing. Nikola Jokić scored 53 points and recorded 11 assists on 66.7 percent shooting from the field. Jamal Murray scored 28 points on 52 percent shooting and committed only one turnover.
For the Suns, Booker was spectacular for the second-consecutive game. He scored 36 points on 77.8/75/83.3 shooting splits. Kevin Durant went for 36 points and 11 rebounds on 57.9/50/92.3 shooting splits. His 13 free-throw attempts were more than double any of his teammates on Sunday night.
All of that efficiency — numbers that do not do justice to the spectacular offensive display from both teams at Footprint Center — without Shamet the Suns are facing a 3-1 deficit at altitude in Game 5.
He took over that offensive by burying 3-pointers on three of four possessions in the fourth quarter, and the Nuggets were never able to recapture the lead.
Landry Shamet was — at times — the best player on the floor
The Nuggets had reduced the deficit to four points three different times within just over three minutes of action in the fourth. At 102-98 is where Shamet became the best player on the floor for a few minutes
For the game Shamet was the Suns’ third-leading scorer. He tallied 19 points on 66.7/62.3/100 shooting splits. In the fourth quarter he hit those three baskets behind the arc, followed them with another and a couple of free throws.
With Chris Paul sidelined due to strained groin muscle, Monty Williams went to Shamet for 20-plus minutes for the second game in a row. After Cameron Payne, the only other playable guard for the Suns besides Shamet is Terrence Ross.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ 2018 first-round pick is currently on his fourth NBA team. Shamet is not especially large, quick, or a player a coach would feel comfortable allowing to run an offense. His career-best field-goal percentage in the regular season is 43.1. That was his rookie season.
In two seasons with the Suns, Shamet has never shot 40 percent from the field in the regular season. However, he has always shot better than 36 percent from three — as he has for his entire NBA career while only once attempting less than five per game.
The series shifts back to Denver on Tuesday, and it is highly unlikely that Shamet will receive the DNP-CD that he did in Game 2. Durant, Booker, and DeAndre Ayton will have to lead the charge if the Suns want to get to the Western Conference Finals. Unless Shamet remains a reliable contributor off of the bench, the Suns will not win this series.
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