Ayton, Harrison Lead Summer Suns in Victory Over Magic

by Cody Cunningham

After winning their first two games of Summer League, the Suns tipped-off on Monday night with the opportunity to enter the tournament undefeated.

It was the Suns vs the Magic, and more specifically Deandre Ayton vs Mohamed Bamba. The two lottery picks went head-to-head as they battled in the paint all night.

Ayton showed off his athleticism, hustle and post moves while scoring a game-high 17 points in the Suns 71-53 victory over the Magic. He also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as he notched his second double-double in the last two games.

“[Ayton] talks to everybody,” Head Coach Igor Kokoškov said. “He’s vocal. He’s our anchor. He’s a leader on the court.”

The big man is currently averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 67 percent from the field.

“Just being more confident and really just play my game,” Ayton said. “I told coach that I’m getting better and better every game.”

While Ayton led the team on offense, Shaq Harrison’s defensive play was key in the victory.

“Usually I don’t use names, but Harrison. I mean that was unbelievable,” Kokoškov said. “I was really impressed.”

Harrison finished tied for second on the team in scoring, but his defensive presence was where he shined. The 6’4” guard had active hands all night grabbing a game-high five steals.

“It’s definitely my calling card, but that’s just what I do,” Harrison said. “I love doing that. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid.”

His focus, energy and constant on-ball defense not only kept the Magic off-balanced, but also impacted his teammate’s play.

“Our defense was great,” Dragan Bender said. “Shaq started everything with his defense and pressuring the ball and everybody was following.”

Harrison brings the same hustle and fight every single night and Kokoškov has taken notice of his point guard’s skill.

“That’s a talent,” Kokoškov said. “Playing hard is a talent. Energy is a talent.”

When asked about how much he values Harrison’s defense, Kokoškov kept it simple.

“A lot,” Kokoškov said.

“That shows he has confidence in me,” Harrison said about his coach’s comments. “His confidence in me gives me even more confidence. That’s great to hear from Igor.”

The Suns secured their third win in as many games and will now be heading into the Summer League Tournament undefeated. The team will have Tuesday off as they await the tournament schedule to be released. Their first game will be on either Wednesday or Thursday. 

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