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Phoenix Suns defeat Miami Heat in Summer League Semi-Finals, Advance to Championship Game

A strong first half and a clutch shot from Markieff Morris proved to save the day as the Suns surrendered an 20 point lead but managed to squeak out a close win over the Miami Heat. Phoenix advances to the final game of the Summer League Tournament to be played on Monday.


The Phoenix Suns beat the Miami Heat, 91-89, in a game that was much closer than it should have been. The Suns blitzed the Heat in the first half and led by 20 points at one point in the third quarter before the Heat stormed back to momentarily take the lead. In the end, Markieff Morris hit a game-winning shot to help the Suns advance to the Summer League Championship game.

The Suns used a strong performance from their bench to take a 51-37 lead into halftime. They did this without the luxury of having even one player in double-digit figures at the half. Instead, they used great offensive balance and teamwork: 7 different players had at least 4 points by the midway point, with the bench leading the way. Arinze Onuaku and Dionte Christmas each scored 8 points in the first half and Chris Babb pitched in 6 off of two three-pointers.

The highlight of the first half came from a play that didn't even count. Archie Goodwin took an inbounds alley-oop pass from Marshall to hit a FANTASTIC circus tip-shot while being fouled (which was ruled off due to a foul being called before the shot):

The Suns also started the second half on a strong note, with PJ Tucker hitting a long corner two-point shot and following it up with a fast-break three. On the next possession, Marcus Morris converted a beautiful alley-oop pass from Marshall in the half-court and the Suns suddenly had an 18 point lead. However, the Heat used a strong surge through the rest of the quarter to cut the lead to just 5 at the end of the third.

The Suns managed to recover and stretch the lead back to double digits early in the fourth but an 14-0 run from Miami gave them a three point lead with just three minutes left. That's when PJ Tucker took the game back into his own hands. He scored on two impressive shots to give the Suns the lead. After Miami tied it up once again, Markieff Morris used a strong baseline drive to hit a go-ahead shot with 21 seconds left that would prove to be the game-winner.

The Suns kept runnin' and gunnin' and manged to barely finish out a good Miami Heat Summer League squad with a 91-89 victory.

Key Takeaways

-Jeff Hornacek will make this team run, run, and run until the game ends. Regardless of the outcome, the Suns will be exciting to watch this year.

-The Morris brothers were good offensively, for the most part. Markieff may not have scored very much (10 points), but he rebounded and passed the ball well tonight. He also used a hard drive to hit the game-winning shot. Marcus finished with 17 points before he fouled out with 3 minutes left. The twins continue to complement each other well but they have a long way to go defensively. They also continue to foul way too much (Markieff fouled out last game, Marcus this game).

-Kendall Marshall was a bit sloppy in the first half (most of the Suns started the game on a sloppy note) but was good to begin the second half. His stats may not catch many eyes, but he ran the team well and was a significant part of the Suns' fast-break success. In fact, the Suns' offense was at its best tonight with Marshall on the floor. He finished with 3 points, 6 assists, and just 1 turnover in 17 minutes.

-Arinze Onuaku was very good. He used his body well to repeatedly establish great position in the post and finish inside. He also displayed his surprisingly adept ability to run the floor in the fist half with consecutive fast-break buckets. He finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and a block in less than 15 minutes.

-The Suns' trio of guards off the bench were excellent. Dionte Christmas showed off his great scoring touch in a variety of ways (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) and Chriss Babb continued to display his excellent three-point shooting ability (9 points off 3-3 shooting on threes to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists). Diante Garrett was a big part of the Suns' huge first half lead and ran the team well, although he struggled a bit in the second (6 points and 3 assists). Even though the Suns are well-stocked at the guard positions, one of these three could very well make the roster.

-PJ Tucker is just a man among boys. The fact that he's playing in Summer League really isn't fair to the rest of the guys out there. Tucker took over in the fourth when the Suns needed him the most and finished the game was the team's leading scorer with 19 points.

-The venerable Archie Goodwin didn't have the eye-popping sort of game he did yesterday, but he was very good nonetheless. He scored 7 points to go with 5 rebounds but more importantly, he continued to showcase the skills, hustle, and feel for the game that has fans swooning every time they hear his name. Much to the chagrin of Suns fans, Hornacek kept Archie on the bench for most of the fourth quarter for some reason.

The Suns will play the winner of the Charlotte-Golden State game in the first ever Summer League Championship game tomorrow (6pm AZ time) in a match to decide which team takes home all the summer marbles.

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