Suns Guard Sends Boastful Message After Game-Clinching Block on Paolo Banchero

The Phoenix Suns needed a spark to snap their three-game losing streak on Thursday night, March 16. Up three points heading into the final possession, Phoenix found themselves needing a stop against the Orlando Magic to secure a win.

That’s when veteran guard Josh Okogie provided the boost at the biggest moment of the game. Orlando Magic rookie phenom Paolo Banchero received a pass with an opportunity to tie the game as time expired. That’s when the Okogie stepped up with a game-winning block on Banchero, as Phoenix defeated the Magic by a final score of 116-113.

The Suns have been looking to find a defensive specialist after former wing Mikal Bridges was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in the Kevin Durant trade. It appears as if Josh Okogie is starting to answer the call as someone who can fill the void left by Bridges’ departure.

Okogie welcomed the new designation as a defensive specialist while speaking to the media in the postgame press conference. “I’ve been doing this since I got to the league. It’s nothing new to me,” Okogie said. “I love the challenge. I love the opportunity to go out there and guard Stephen Curry, go out there and guard Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Banchero, Franz Wagner. I think it’s fun, and I’m always up to the challenge.”

“I’m always up to the challenge.”

Josh Okogie on guarding the league’s best after his game-sealing block Thursday night 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/JmRW1nKj4Y

— NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2023

Josh Okogie ‘Up to the Challenge’ For Phoenix Suns

After Kevin Durant’s pregame injury on March 8, the Suns have found themselves in a difficult position. The team is looking to come together and establish some chemistry on the fly before the NBA playoffs. When Durant is healthy, Phoenix has enough firepower on the offensive side of the ball to challenge any opponent.

But there’s still other roles on the team that need to be defined by the rest of the roster. With Mikal Bridges now playing for the Brooklyn Nets, the Suns have needed to find a defensive stopper who can step up and guard the oppositions best players. While Okogie has his warts on the offensive side of the ball, his talent as a defender is just what the Suns need.

Josh Okogie blocked Paolo Banchero to end the game! pic.twitter.com/WNuTB8P4rb

— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) March 17, 2023

Okogie has made winning plays for the Suns when it’s mattered the most. He finished Thursday night’s game with 15 points and four assists, but the block at the end of the game was the biggest of contributions.

Phoenix Suns Look to Build Off Win Against Orlando Magic

A hard-fought win can swing the momentum of any team at the point of the 2022-23 NBA season. That’s just what the Suns are hoping for with their Thursday night victory over the Magic.

Phoenix continues to wait for Durant to return to the floor, with enough time to gel quickly before the start of the playoffs. The Suns now find themselves at 38-32 for the year, good enough for fourth place in the Western Conference standings. Phoenix will hit the road for a three-game road trip that begins on Sunday with a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Suns will need to attempt to build off the momentum from the win against Orlando. While Phoenix finds itself in fourth place, they remain just two games up in the standings from potentially falling to sixth place.

For now, the Suns will focus on the idea that the rest of the roster is starting to come together. If Okogie can keep making winning plays on a nightly basis, the Suns might have just found their new defensive anchor.

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