O’Neale: Phoenix Suns took Spurs ‘too lightly’ in glaring loss…

The Phoenix Suns had little trouble cruising past the Victor Wembanyama-led San Antonio Spurs in a 131-106 victory just two games ago.

So, with Wembanyama out Monday night, all signs pointed to the Suns doling out another beatdown in San Antonio.

Or so they thought.

Instead of matching wins with the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks, two teams fighting for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, Phoenix fell flat as the Spurs notched just their 16th win of the year in a 104-102 victory.

And on top of the loss marking yet another should-win matchup that the Suns couldn’t capitalize on, the most glaring part of Monday’s defeat was the effort or lack thereof.

“I wasn’t here earlier in the season when those games happened, so I can’t really speak on those, but last night was taking a team too lightly,” Royce O’Neale told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “They came out, played hard and competed every possession, made some big shots. Hats off to them.”

O’Neale wasn’t the only Suns player to acknowledge the big negative in the room, with Bradley Beal sounding off on Phoenix expecting an easy win with Wembanyama out.

Head coach Frank Vogel doubled down on Beal’s comments, calling the loss “unacceptable” while acknowledging a lack of focus and discipline.

For now, all the Suns can do is soul search as best they can and move on knowing there’s just 10 regular season games left to play.

“Definitely was an honest conversation and film session that we had,” O’Neale said. “Hopefully that game last night we learned from it and took the positive and negatives and hopefully that lights a fire in us to be ready to finish out the season strong and make this playoff push.”

If playing down to their competition is the biggest issue, the Suns shouldn’t have to worry about that during this final stretch.

Of the seven teams that remain on the docket, all of them are a six seed or higher in their respective conferences. Nine of the upcoming games come against the teams seeded ahead of the Suns in the Western Conference.

Safe to say it’s going to be a gauntlet, though O’Neale remains confident Phoenix can handle what’s next.

“I’ll take my chances against any team in the league.”

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