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Summer Suns Get First Win (94-86)

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Well, normally I wouldn't try to recap a game I only got to see a little over half of, but I will give it a shot this time because not only did the summer league Suns finally get their first win, I also get to write about a couple of guys that barely got mentioned in my previous two recaps. But before I do that, a brief note about a guy who's gotten plenty of mention in this space: I turned the game on near the end of the first half, just in time to see DJ Strawberry bring the house down with a monster of a jam. We really need this guy to make the team. It would be so much fun to see those Josh Smith-like jams on a nightly basis, even if it's just during warm-ups before the game. He didn't shoot the ball well, but narrowly missed a double-double with nine assists to go with 13 points, four rebounds, and two blocks--and believe me, in a game where his team shot under 40%, getting nine assists was no small feat. He was maybe not as impressive as his last time out, but the kid did OK. The guess here is that he'll make the team. I hope so.

Now, if you just took a passing glance at the boxscore, you might wonder how on earth the Suns managed to win on a day when their "big three" (Strawberry, Alando Tucker, and Otis George) combined to shoot 29% (14-48). Well, they won for two reasons:

  1. They out-rebounded the Hornets by 11 (including +9 in offensive rebounds).
  2. Ron Hale and Adam Hess combined for 13-23 including 6-12 from three.
The rebounding was huge for the Suns. It really kept them in the game when their shots weren't falling. It was also a team effort--not a single player got more than nine rebounds. Otis George had nine, Pape Sow had eight, and Adam Hess had seven. Alando Tucker gave me the five I asked for in the game thread, but unfortunately, his shooting percentage went south in the process (5-20). Evidently, he's one of those people who can only concentrate on two things at a time. When I asked him to add rebounding to the excellent shooting and free throw percentages he had in the last game, I guess it was one task too many and the shooting fell off. My bad, Alando. You just play your game next time.

The Suns held up well in spite of Tucker's shot being off, and despite almost equally bad shooting from Otis George (5-15) and DJ Strawberry (4-13). They did so because Adam Hess was getting it done from three, and because Ron Hale was getting it done from everywhere. Hale shot 9-13, was a perfect 5-5 from the line, and ended up with 25 points. His shots came from all over the floor, including 2-4 from three, jumpers, layups, and a nice slam for his final points of the game. Hess shot 4-10 overall, and made 4-8 from three. His three pointer mini-barrage in the fourth quarter took the life out of any comeback hopes the Hornets might still have had at that point.

And so, the Summer League Suns finally got a win, and so did Steve Kerr. A couple of quick notes before I put away the keyboard for the weekend:

  • AZCentral reports that long-time Suns announcer Al (Shazaam!) McCoy will receive the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame. Congratulations, Al!
  • Marcus Banks was mysteriously MIA for this game. Not sure if his injury needed more time to heal, or if maybe the coaches just wanted to give the new guys more playing time. In any event, his team did fine without him.
  • Former Sun Jackson Vroman (2004-05) made an appearance in this game. He started for the Hornets, and had five points and four rebounds in 16 minutes, along with four turnovers and four fouls. Not really his day I guess (or else he likes the number 4).
  • It appears the awful broadcast for Monday's game may have been a fluke. The one today was not a problem. It wasn't spit and polished like the one on Wednesday, but there was no loud static in the background, and you could hear the crowd, the ball, the sneakers on the floor, and even the coaches yelling instructions. Plus, the PA guy sounded like he actually wanted to be there. The broadcast had kind of a "what it might be like to be there live" effect. Not bad at all. Apparently, I just picked a bad game to watch on Monday for my first time ever to try summer league ball.
  • I will not be able to watch even a little of tomorrow's game (no access to internet), so there will be no game thread and no recap for that one unless someone wants to write one up in the diaries.