Tucker, Markieff Morris Help Suns Hold Off Heat

P.J. Tucker takes the ball and drives it down the lane against the Miami Heat.

After the Suns’ second game in Las Vegas last Monday, reporters were already asking 28-year-old PJ Tucker if he was planning on sitting out the rest of the NBA Summer League.

Four games later, Tucker is still here, suiting up and, more importantly, carrying the team through critical stretches.

A former Summer League success story himself, Tucker helped the Suns hold off a furious rally from Miami on Sunday afternoon. He scored 13 second-half points, including a reverse layup to keep the Suns ahead in the closing stages.

“We’ve been on the other side of those [comebacks] a couple times in this tournament,” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “We just try to emphasize to the guys that ‘Hey, just because you have a lead, you can’t relax.’ Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Guys have a natural instinct to think ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game.’ All of the sudden they lose a little bit of that edge. I thought that’s what happened to us.”

The Suns eventually rallied behind Tucker and Markieff Morris (17 points), who combined to score the Suns’ final 11 points.

Marcus Morris (10), Dionte Christmas (10) and Arinze Onuaku (10) also scored in double figures for Phoenix, which advanced to the Summer League Championship game, scheduled for Monday night at the Thomas and Mack Arena.

Markieff Morris Shows Off Versatility in Win

The Suns have gotten used to their original twin posting up and spotting up with equal success.

Morris added something new on Sunday, three times driving and dishing to open shooters in the game’s first 12 minutes, when the Suns took early control before the fourth-quarter breakdown.

The third-year forward didn’t forget his usual laundry list, adding 10 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals for a do-it-all outing in just 21 minutes of game action.

It was Morris who provided the final difference on the scoreboard, providing the lob pass over the defense that led to Tucker’s reverse layup in the final minute.

After the Heat tied it again, Morris took on the scoring role himself, driving into his defender on the baseline and muscling up the final go-ahead basket.

Babb Fills Stat Sheet, Gets Critical Minutes

Chris Babb’s opportunities have been selective, but he’s proved ready when called upon. The 6-5 swingman has made a Summer League living by keeping defenses honest while proving effective in team defensive schemes.

He did more of the same on Sunday, hitting all three of his three-point shot attempts. He added four assists and four rebounds, usually serving as the starting or assisting point in the fast break.

Twice in a row Babb secured rebounds and quickly found Diante Garrett streaking up the floor. Both times Garrett fed Onuaku, who finished at the rim.