The Suns started out with their normal starting unit, save for Gerald Green replacing Goran Dragic, as expected. The first quarter began with both teams playing noticeably loose, almost in full exhibition mode. Miles Plumlee attempted a step-back fade-away jumper as the first shot of the game for the Suns...if that's any indication.
Gerald Green was the main scorer for the Suns through most of the first quarter, scoring the first nine points for Phoenix. Markieff came in first off the bench to replace Plumlee after about four minutes in. Then, about midway through the first, Alex Len got the call as the first rookie to check in, replacing Channing Frye. After that, it was Ish Smith who got the call to replace Eric Bledsoe with about four minutes left in the half. Still no Archie Goodwin.
The Kings started going on a mini-run with some nice play by rookie Ben McLemore and Jason Thompson...but Ish Smith showcased his speed and aggression throughout to help keep it close, including a last second up and under lay-up at full speed to end the quarter. That team option of his for next season is looking like a pretty good deal at this point.
The Kings led it 24-21 at the end of the first quarter.
Finally, Archie Goodwin was given the call to start the second quarter in place of Gerald Green, and Shavlik Randolph also got his first action of the night as he replaced Alex Len. Goodwin wasted no time getting on the board with a nice scoop-shot inside, and almost had another but fumbled the ball going behind the back as he drove to the rim. Still, the aggression and raw talent that made the fans fall in love with him was on full display.
Goodwin went right back to work on an and-one shortly after, scoring five points in his first three minutes of action. But he wasn't done yet...he then attacked the rime with a SAVAGE dunk on about three Sacramento Kings players earning yet another and-one. We're talking SportsCenter Top 10 material here...It was absolutely incredible. Although he missed the following free-throw, his first seven points in the first four minutes of play was probably the best stretch we've seen from him this season.
Lastly, it was Dionte Christmas time as the Suns finally subbed him in at about the seven minute mark of the second quarter, making the bench clearing complete. Len came back in for Randolph as well, and although he was certainly overshadowed by Archie thus far, he still provided some decent defense out there. He also attempted a couple of 15-footers in the first half, and although they looked good, they just wouldn't fall.
Goodwin had a couple more highlights to end the first half. First was a stolen pass for a breakaway 180 reverse dunk, and then a last second put back lay-up to tie the game 47-47. Goodwin was officially MAN ON FIRE with 11 points in his first 12 minutes of play! Although it was the Archie show for the Suns, the Ben McLemore show was also in full effect for the Kings, as he scored 18 points in the first half.
The third quarter started with the starters once again, minus Dragic of course. Gerald Green went glass on a three to start it off for the Suns. McLemore also picked up where he left off netting another three, and then Plumlee got to the rim for a nice reverse layup. The scoring went mostly back-and-forth again in the same spirit of an exhibition game that we saw to start the game. You could definitely see that most of the Suns starters were taking this game pretty easy, knowing there was little to play for.
It wasn't long though until Goodwin came back in...after that hot 2nd quarter you knew he wouldn't sit long. Even with Goodwin in though, the Suns played sloppily and started quickly falling behind. Alex Len also came back in the game, but just couldn't seem to find a way to get the ball in the basket.
The rest of the bench trickled in, and you could see the change in play as the 2nd unit showed a little more care and consistency on the court. Still, the Kings were able to outscore the Suns in the quarter, taking a 74-71 lead to end the third.
The bench plus Goodwin and Len stayed in to start the 4th, but Ray McCallum slipped behind the defense for an alley-oop to start things off for Sacramento. Len took another attempt at a jumper, but still couldn't get it to go. Ish Smith however, provided the Suns' initial spark with a defensive strip from behind and then a fast break no look pass to Markieff Morris who completed an and-one. Ish also pushed the temp on the next play with yet another nice drive and kick, this time to Marcus Morris who hit the shot to take the lead 79-78. Smith was once again proving he can provide quality minutes as a reserve, something he's already done countless times this season.
Just when you thought Goodwin was done for the evening, Markieff threw Archie a pass at the rim which he was somehow able to catch and finish with yet another dunk even as he was moving away and to the side of the rim. Tremendous night for young Archie.
Ish Smith continued to push the tempo of the offense and even showed some nice defensive instincts to bother the Kings on both sides of the court, but Sacramento kept coming and refused to fall far behind. Goodwin was also active on defense, almost grabbing his second steal but was called for a questionable foul on the play to negate it.
Goodwin continued to attack the rim and converted yet another and-one, after an aggressive drive to the rim. He got a little careless with the ball on the next possession, losing the ball which turned into a Sacramento fast break, but those kinds of mistakes are to be expected for a young player seeing his first big minutes in an NBA game.
Sacramento once again answered with an impressive and-one at the rim by Quincy Acy to tie it up, but Goodwin wasn't going to let this one slip away. He had another quick lay-up, and then finally hit a three on the next possession to put the Suns back on top with three minutes to go...scoring 29 points off the bench in all. Amazing.
Although Ben McLemore scored a game high 31 points, just edging out Archie's 29, the Suns were able to hold on for the lead and win their 48th game of the season...giving us one last night to cheer for one of the more memorable teams in recent history.
Well done Suns...well done.
Archie Goodwin: 31 minutes, 29 points (11-13), 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist
Archie was flat out incredible. He was definitely the star of the game for the suns, showing all of the impressive talent and play that the Suns hoped for when they drafted him. He showed that he is ready to start contributing, and should be a factor for the Suns next season. One more reason to be excited about this team's future.
Alex Len: 16 minutes, 0 points (0-4), 4 rebounds, 1 steal.
Len had a fairly disappointing game overall. He simply couldn't find the basket on offense and was a step late on a few defensive possessions as well, yet still did fair in that aspect. Either way, Len has shown the promise to be a formidable big man in this league, and I expect him to contribute much more next season.
Ish Smith: 27 minutes, 8 points (4-7), 8 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal
Although Smith isn't a rookie, I'm including him in this list because of not only his first year with the team, but also his "team option" status going into next season. I think the Suns would be well served to pick up Ish's $985,000 salary, as he is a reliable third option at a very affordable price. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of him in a Suns uniform.