Pacific Notes: Nurkic, Ayton, Beal, Klay, Wiggins, Harden

While one game isn’t enough to determine winners and losers of a trade, the Suns‘ victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday served as a reminder of why Phoenix traded former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton for a handful of role players led by Jusuf Nurkic, writes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.

Nurkic, Grayson Allen, and Nassir Little all played key roles in the victory, with Nurkic in particular bouncing back from a slow start to have a big game. The veteran center finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks, and was a plus-17 in 29 minutes.

Ayton, who was a minus-33 in 31 minutes for the Blazers, is getting an opportunity to play more of a starring role in Portland, while Nurkic is happy to take a back seat to his superstar teammates in Phoenix, according to Bourguet, who suggests those roles suit the two big men based on what they hope to accomplish in the near future.

“It’s not like I’m a main player here, man, [like] I’m just gonna take the ball and do whatever I want,” Nurkic said. “I feel like people need to understand I’m here to sacrifice and do all the little stuff that they need for the game and winning basketball.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Andscape’s Marc J. Spears shares the second diary installment from Suns guard Bradley Beal, who is currently on the shelf with a back injury and said he shares fans’ frustration that the team’s big three has yet to play together. “We want it to happen more than anybody,” Beal wrote. “So, we’re all working diligently…to make sure that happens. … Before you know it, we’re all going to be clicking. And when this thing is healthy and the train is rolling, we’re going to be steaming away.”
  • Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins haven’t looked quite like their usual selves so far this season, but Warriors head coach Steve Kerr referred to the two former All-Stars as “championship players” and indicated that he’s willing to be “really patient” with them, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. After Wiggins scored a season-high 31 points on Saturday and Thompson put up a season-high 20 on Monday, Kerr suggested that patience is beginning to pay off. “I think you will see a different Wiggs from here on, and I think the same thing’s going to happen with Klay,” he said.
  • What has been the key for helping James Harden get comfortable with the Clippers? “Constant communication,” according to Harden and head coach Tyronn Lue, as Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times writes. Lue said his experience with Harden has been one he went through with the Clippers’ other stars too. “(They) all want to have a relationship and constant communication with the head coach and just try to figure out what they see, what the coach sees and how we can put it all together,” Lue said.
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