PHOENIX – The Suns‘ championship hopes evaporated in the desert air Thursday night.
Playing in front of their home crowd, the Suns were obliterated by the Denver Nuggets, 125-100, in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. Denver’s victory clinched the series at 4-2 and earned the club a berth in the conference finals. The Nuggets will play the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors series.
Game 6 was over by halftime when Denver went into the locker room leading 81-51 as the Phoenix crowd booed the Suns for their listless performance.
“It sucked. It was a bad feeling, embarrassing. They came out and hit us in the mouth and we couldn’t recover,” Suns forward Kevin Durant said postgame. “We have to give them credit for being a disciplined team.”
Durant, who the Suns acquired in a trade in February, scored 23 points.
While Durant wasn’t a member of the Suns last year, it was a bit of déjà vu for Phoenix.
For the second consecutive season, the Suns were blown off their home court in an elimination playoff game. Last year, the Suns lost 123-90 to the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semifinals in Game 7.
The fateful loss last season occurred on May 15, almost a year to the day of this one.
“It hurt big time, especially with our team. It just hurt in front of the fans. That’s not us. Especially after last year, we kind of did the same thing. It’s not a good feeling. I just wish it could’ve been at least closer,” Suns guard Cameron Payne, who had a team-high 31 points, said. “This just don’t look good.”
Suns coach Monty Williams acknowledged that “(both games) bring bad feelings about the game and what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Changes coming in Phoenix?
The Suns had title hopes when they traded for Durant in February. Now the franchise must assess the future and figure out ways to build around Devin Booker and Durant.
Booker is signed through 2028. Durant is signed through 2026. Those two stars are safe.
But the Suns might have to make some tough roster decisions this offseason, starting with the futures of veteran point guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Ayton.
Paul, who didn’t play in the series after Game 2 due to a groin injury, is 38 years old and Ayton also missed Game 6 due to a rib contusion. Both players were subpar in the postseason. Paul is signed through 2025, with the final year at $30 million non-guaranteed. Ayton is signed through 2026 at more than $32 million per season.
“We’ll see. Obviously, you always want to make tweaks regardless,” Durant said. “Every year, GMs, coaches, players job is to get better and find ways to adapt and become a better team. I’m sure we’ll make adjustments.”
After Thursday’s humiliating home loss (again), the Suns have no choice but to reevaluate.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Suns forced to reevaluate after second straight embarrassing playoff exit