Summer Suns Fall One Game Short of Perfect
It took six games in nine days before the Suns were unable to muster another impressive offensive explosion.
The seventh-game lapse, a 91-77 loss to undefeated Golden State, saw Phoenix fall just short of the Summer League trophy after starting their Las Vegas stint 6-0. Archie Goodwin led the Suns with 18 points. Marcus Morris added 17 points, PJ Tucker added 12, and Markieff Morris added 10 points.
"It's tough when you play seven games in 10 nights, 11 nights, whatever it is," said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. "Tonight wasn't our night. We didn't play that well. Overall, the big picture, the guys played hard and learned some of the stuff we want to try to do."
The Summer League saw the Suns field a mixed team of contract-committed roster members as well as free agents and unsigned rookies. The veterans, led by the Morris twins, PJ Tucker and Kendall Marshall, made up the starting unit along with 29th overall pick Archie Goodwin.
Goodwin wowed observers with his athleticism and knack for scoring, hitting double figures in five of the seven games played. PJ Tucker expanded his offense, even taking over crunch-time duties on occasion.
Meanwhile the Morris brothers continued to evolve both individually and as a tandem. Markieff Morris thrived as a rebounder and scorer off the ball and in the paint, while Marcus saw plenty of touches in mid-range iso sets. The latter brother's buzzer-beating, 22-foot fadeaway capped off a comeback win over Minnesota after trailing by 18 at the half.
"I saw [the regulars] on tape enough, but to see them in person and how they repsond, what they do, I just tried to get a good idea of what they do and how they play," Hornacek said. "I tried to push them to a different level of hard work. Tried to keep them a little more responsible with what their role is and what their job is at both ends of the court."
Meanwhile the reserves injected tempo and offense when needed. Dionte Christmas served as the Suns' sixth man in Las Vegas, lending his jump shot and confidence if the offense faltered.
Former D-League All-Star Arinze Onuaku gave the Suns a big inside presence, averaging 6.4 rebounds in limited minutes. He showed progress in his low-post game against Golden State, driving past his defender for a one-handed slam and then hitting a turnaround jump hook from the baseline.
Diante Garrett provided speed and pick-and-roll offense. Chris Babb came off the bench and spread the floor while adding a better defensive element on the perimeter.
"They're all guys that you could have on your team," Hornacek said of the reserves. "They all listen. They all tried to pay attention to what was going on and they tried to play as a team. Sometimes it didnt' work out that great, but the guys are trying to do what was asked. That's the big key."