De'Anthony Melton Receives First-Career Start vs Heat

by Cody Cunningham

After two solid performances off the bench, De’Anthony Melton received his first-career start as the Phoenix Suns tipped-off against the Miami Heat.

“It felt good, but after they called my name it’s just another game,” Melton said. “So I just go out there and play my game and do what I do.”

The Suns started the past two games slowly, but came out firing as Trevor Ariza opened up the game with two straight three-pointers. The team built off his momentum as they scored 36 points in just the first quarter and took a two-point lead into the break. 

The Heat went on a run in the second quarter, but Mikal Bridges stole the ball in the final seconds and drained a three-point buzzer-beater to make it 60-50 entering halftime.

Melton took over for the Suns in the third quarter and showed Suns fans what he’s capable of when he steps on the court. The rookie caught fire from deep knocking down three of his five three-pointers in just the third quarter alone.

“I think it was just the flow of the game,” Melton said. “Coach really told me to be aggressive but also be smart so I was picking and choosing. My team did a great job of finding me. When the ball’s moving like that it’s really hard to stop us, we just have to get stops on the other end too.”

Ultimately, the Suns weren’t able to overcome their deficit as the Heat closed out the fourth with a 115-98 victory.

Melton scored 12 points in his first NBA start while also tallying four assists, three rebounds and a steal. He is now shooting 46.2 percent from three-point range over the past three games.

“I’m glad he accepted the challenge,” Head Coach Igor Kokoškov said. “I think overall, he had a good performance and he should just keep working his game and getting better.”

This game was made a little extra special for Melton as he got to go head-to-head with Dwyane Wade in his final game in Phoenix.

“It’s special,” Melton said. “Dwyane Wade, his last dance and all, just to stay that was my first start is definitely a story for my kids to hear about.” 

Deandre Ayton notched his 14th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Troy Daniels scored a team-high 18 points off the bench.

The Suns play their first of another back-to-back on Monday as the Los Angeles Clipper come to town. Be sure to catch the action on Fox Sports Arizona.