Final Score: 81-84, Timberwolves win.
The good news is the summer league Suns out-scored their Timberwolf counterparts by 12 points in the final three quarters of the game. The bad news is they were outscored by 15 in the first quarter. The Suns started off a miserable 6-20 from the field, and looked a step slow early in the game. They trailed the Timberwolves 30-15 heading into the second quarter when Ron Hale again provided instant offense off the bench to help get the Suns back in the game. Hale shot 5-5 in the first half, including three 3-pointers. He cooled off a bit in the second half, finishing 7-12 (4-6 from three) for 19 points. He also had six rebounds and two assists. Hale was joined off the bench by Adam Hess, who saved his best work for the fourth quarter. Hess shot 5-10, and once again showed an ability to hit the three under duress. He had 14 points, four rebounds, a steal, and a layup in the fourth quarter that momentarily gave the Suns the lead.
Well, it's probably not a good thing if I've already typed an entire paragraph of my recap and haven't mentioned a peep about DJ Strawberry, Alando Tucker, or Otis George, right? Otis George certainly had better games in his summer league stint than this one, but he did get 12 rebounds and a steal to go with his eight points (4-10). Alando Tucker shot 6-18, and made much less of an impact in this game than he did in the previous three I've seen so far. DJ Strawberry finally got his double-double, however, it was a somewhat dubious one. DJ had 10 turnovers to go with 12 points, and those 12 points came on 3-13 shooting. The night wasn't a total loss for him, though, as he had seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and once again showed an equal amount enthusiasm on defense as he did on offense. But he seemed to have hit a bit of a wall in this game. Perhaps it was fatigue from playing the third game in three nights, or maybe it was a letdown from his amazing performance (so I hear) in Game 4. Whatever the case, he just seemed a little "off" tonight. But nobody has a good game every night, and I doubt anything that happened here will hurt his chances of making the Suns' roster.
To be honest, I was kind of surprised the Suns came so close to winning this game after being down by 15 at the end of the first quarter. It was the third game in as many nights, and at the start of the game, it looked like the Suns were hopelessly outmatched by a team that had a good deal more NBA experience than they did. For a while, it appeared Rashad McCants might even break Marcus Banks' recent scoring record. He ended up with 32 points as one of three Timberwolves to score in double-digits. The other two were Randy Foye with 12 (4-14), and Craig Smith with 21 (9-15). As a team, the Timberwolves out-shot the Suns 45%-38%. Lottery pick Corey Brewer didn't set the world on fire with his shooting (5 points, 1-5 from the field), but contributed in other ways with 10 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and a steal. Overall, the Timberwolves looked like a much better, more experienced team on paper, and played like it for much of the game too. And yet, the Suns came all the way back from their early deficit to pull ahead by three in the fourth quarter before mistakes and missed shots put the game out of reach. This could have gone much, much worse for our guys, so I'm proud of them for not giving up, and for finding a way to give themselves a chance to win. Perhaps the heart and resilience of the real Suns team was manifested a bit in the summer edition. In any event, while it's too bad the summer league Suns couldn't end their short season on a high note, at least they went down fighting.
A few quick notes:
- Melvin Sanders got to start tonight, but it didn't work out so well for him. He was scoreless on 0-6 shooting, and aside from two rebounds and five fouls, had a line of zeros across the board.
- Marcus Banks again sat this one out. It's unfortunate he wasn't able to play in more than just one game, but his absence did create a larger opportunity for guys like DJ Strawberry and Otis George. Hopefully, Banks will continue to work on his game during the off-season, and be ready to make a better contribution than he did this past season. This article SueB posted in the comments of the previous recap sounds promising. Thanks, SueB, for finding this.
- The user comments at the bottom of AZCentral's brief article about yesterday's game have convinced me to go back and watch the game from the NBA archives, and write a belated recap tomorrow. So any AZCentral readers who came here today looking for it, check back about this time tomorrow evening and it should be there along with some final thoughts about the Suns' summer league "season".
- Speaking of AZCentral, it sounds like Shawn Marion is having a bout with the dreaded foot ailment plantar fasciitis, and may skip Team USA for the second year in a row. I certainly hope this is just a precautionary thing for Shawn. I have the misfortune of having some first-hand experience with this condition, and let me tell you, it hurts. This is my second go-around with it. The first time took nearly a year before my foot was finally back to normal. This time is even more painful than the prior one, and it's already been six months. Of course, Shawn has the benefit of medical care that doesn't rely on what an insurance company will pay for. And he's also a young, well-conditioned athlete versus my out-of-shape self. So, hopefully his treatment will progress a lot faster than mine, and three months will be sufficient time for it to heal. Rest up and get well, Shawn! We need you healthy and ready to go by the end of October.