Kaminsky & Okobo Shine in Suns Final Preseason Game

Frank Kaminsky
by Cody Cunningham

QUICK RECAP:

The Phoenix Suns tipped-off their final preseason game on Monday night as the team went head-to-head against the Denver Nuggets. The game opened as a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, but a late first quarter run gave the Nuggets a nine-point advantage early. By halftime that lead grew to 14 as Denver began to pull away. The Suns came out of halftime locked-in on the defensive end as they held Denver to just 19 third-quarter points and kept themselves within striking range of a comeback.

With just seven minutes left in the game, the Suns found themselves down by 15, but the team wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. Elie Okobo found Cam Johnson beyond the arc as the rookie drained the three-pointer. A few free throws from Jalen Lecque and Cheick Diallo followed by another three-pointer from Norense Odiase and the Suns were within single-digits.

It was then that Okobo completely took over on offense. Diallo ripped away a defensive rebound and found Okobo sprinting full court for the layup. On the next possession, Okobo was fouled driving through traffic to get to the free throw line. He hit both shots from the charity stripe to bring the Suns within four with under two minutes to go.

But the young point guard from France wasn’t done yet. Juancho Hernangomez hit two free throws for Denver, but Okobo retaliated with a three-pointer on the other side. The Suns defense forced a travel by the Nuggets and Okobo found himself with the ball in his hands yet again. He drove to the basket, scored the layup and made it a one-point game with only one minute to go.

However, P.J. Dozier hit a couple clutch free throws for the Nuggets as they ultimately defeated the Suns 107-102. Phoenix closed-out preseason with a 2-2 record as they gear up for the Coco-Cola and Fry’s Food Stores Tip-Off to open the season on Oct. 23.

KEY PERFORMERS

Frank Kaminsky: 22 points, 6-of-10 shooting, 2-of-4 three-pointers, 8-of-8 free throws, 6 rebounds, 2 assists.

Deandre Ayton: 14 points, 7-of-9 shooting, 4 rebounds

Kelly Oubre Jr.: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal

Ricky Rubio: 7 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals

STAT OF THE GAME

Rubio gave Phoenix a taste of what he’s capable of as a playmaker as he dished out a game-high nine assists while only committing one turnover in the process  . Among players to average at least 6.1 assists per game last season, only Jeff Teague and Mike Conley averaged less turnovers per game than Rubio.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

HEAD COACH MONTY WILLIAMS ON FRANK KAMINSKY: “He’s just playing a complete game for his position. You can play him with both units. Sometimes I post him. I think he can take advantage of guys his size, smaller guys. I don’t want him hesitating at all. I think he makes the right plays. Probably doesn’t shoot enough. He’s just playing with confidence and I want to keep that going.”

COACH ON ELIE OKOBO: “When he’s had an opportunity, he’s played well… He’s made a name for himself in that when he gets minutes, he plays well. He’s a good guy to have around in case you have an injury.”

FRANK KAMINSKY ON PRESEASON: “I think it’s gone well. We’ve thrown a lot of different lineups out there. Got a lot of new guys on the team so it’s all about figuring out schemes, bring along the young guys, get the rookies up to speed. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that.”

KAMINSKY ON ARON BAYNES: “We’ve both been in the league for a while. We have that intelligence. We can sniff out plays and have that understanding without really saying anything to each other. It’s been nice so far. Obviously, I can’t wait until he gets that mask off his face because it’s kind of funny looking at him. He’s more of a physical presence, more of a down low guy and I’m a guy that’s more out on the perimeter. So, it works well between the two of us.”

KAMINKSY ON THE SEASON: “I am ready. I think everyone is ready. This next five or six days are really going to help us prepare and put more stuff in on offense, get better on defense, get better with our communication. We will be ready to go next Wednesday.”

INJURY UPDATE

Dario Šarić (right quad contusion), Tariq Owens (personal reasons), Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness) and David Krämer (left tibia stress reaction) were all out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Coca-Cola and Fry’s Food Stores Tip-Off will be on Oct. 23 as the Suns begin the 2019-20 season against the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Be sure to get your tickets HERE!

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