Lecque Hits Game-Winning Free Throws as Suns Defeat Spurs

by Cody Cunningham

QUICK RECAP:

The Phoenix Suns tipped-off their final preliminary game at Summer League on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs struck first, but James Palmer Jr. found David Kramer from beyond the arc for three and the Suns started rolling. The team went up by as many as double-digits in the second quarter until the Spurs hit on a 9-0 run. Kramer knocked down another three from beyond the arc in the final seconds of the first half to bring the Suns within two entering the break.

Phoenix came out of halftime locked-in as they opened up a 10-0 run in the third quarter that was topped off by a Jared Harper three-pointer to regain the lead. They continued this into the fourth as Palmer helped lead the team on another solid 8-0 run while hitting a three-pointer and throwing down a fast break slam. The Spurs battled back on a 12-0 run of their own as they regained the lead with less than four minutes remaining.

The game went back-and-forth between the two teams as neither could quite hold an advantage. With 18 seconds left, the Suns found themselves down by one with the ball in their possession. Billy Garrett Jr. brought the ball up for the Suns, drove through the paint and, as the defense collapsed on him, dished it out beyond the arc to Jalen Lecque. Lecque quickly drove passed his defender, got to rim and was fouled on his shot. The 19-year-old guard stepped up to the line and knocked down both free throws to give the Suns a one-point lead with 5.9 seconds remaining. The Spurs chance for a last second opportunity diminished fast as Palmer Jr. stepped up defensive and stole the ball to secure a 79-78 victory for the Suns.

KEY PERFORMERS:

Jalen Lecque: 14 points, 3-of-5 shooting, 7-of-8 free throws, 2 assists

James Palmer Jr.: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block

Elie Okobo: 9 points, 4-of-8 shooting, 2 assists, 1 rebound

Ray Spalding: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block

Jared Harper: 9 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 block

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING:

WILLIE GREEN: “Great win. Guys went out and they fought. Really solid game defensively and offensively I thought the ball hopped around a little bit more than it did last game. It was really good to see.”

GREEN ON LECQUE: “Huge free throws down the stretch. The more important thing that we saw from Jalen today is he just played the right way all game long. There’s going to be times where he can get the ball and attack and use his athleticism, but the ball kept moving. Other guys got involved and that’s what we want to see from him.”

“I think our jobs as coaches and our staff in general is just making sure that he’s doing things the right way. Whether it’s in practice, shootaround, his own individual time, we want to make sure that he’s building and building a great foundation and that’s what we’re preaching all summer.”

“He’s been great. It’s a pleasant surprise, but we knew athletically where he was, but just being able to see him start to put together. You can see each game he’s getting better and better. It’s coming slowly, but huge upside.”

JALEN LECQUE: “Coaches just trust me. Putting me in the game and they trust me to make the right plays. So, I just made the right play and came out with a victory.”

“We’re a really good group of guys. We just got together a couple weeks ago. We had to do this, play in Summer League together. We came out two-and-one and it’s just a great feeling with these guys and I think I played okay today.”

ON LEARNING FROM TEAMMATES: “Everybody, Elie, the people on the bench, everybody on my team. I just try to be a sponge on the court and just try to learn from everybody so I can become the best player I can be.”

GETTING BETTER EVERY GAME: “Definitely. Just the experience, the physicality. I’m just getting everything. The speed of the game. It’s just a great opportunity to just be here so I’m happy and learning.”

WHAT’S NEXT:

The Suns wrapped up preliminary play with a 2-1 record in Summer League. The top eight teams in Las Vegas will be seeded in a tournament culminating with a Championship Game on July 15. Teams that do not qualify for the tournament will each play a consolation game, so every team will play at least five games and as many as seven.

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