The Suns and Kings both went as young as they could go, and this time the Kings came out ahead.
Behind rookie Skal Labissiere’s career high (32 points on 11-15 shooting), the Kings surged ahead in the 4th quarter and wouldn’t give up the lead.
In the end, the Kings took this one 107-101.
Tyler Ulis had his first career double-double (13 and 13) but missed 11 of 17 shots, while Devin Booker missed 17 of his last 19 attempts. That’s not gonna get it done.
T.J. Warren had a good game: 24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. So did Marquese Chriss: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists and 2 steals. And Alan Williams had another double-double (14 and 11) plus a couple blocks.
Tyler Ulis started at point guard as Eric Bledsoe sat out for “rest” for the second time this season. Last time Bledsoe sat out, Brandon Knight was given the chance to start and that’s just about the last time we’ve seen Knight this year.
The Suns starting lineup of Tyler Ulis (21), Devin Booker (20), T.J. Warren (23), Alex Len (23) and Marquese Chriss (19) is the FOURTH time the Suns have set the franchise record for youngest-ever starting lineup in franchise history, averaging 21 years and 8 months old.
A lot of teams don't even HAVE more than one 21 year old on their entire roster. The Suns starting lineup had three, and there was still Derrick Jones Jr. (20) coming off the bench and Dragan Bender (19) on the injured list.
The Suns started fast, going up on the Kings 20-10 on a 9-0 run, mostly behind Devin Booker, but then the Kings responded with a 9-0 run of their own pull right back in it.
Marquese Chriss started hot with a chase-down block after a alley-oop dunk, but otherwise missed a couple open shots and free throws.
By the end of the first quarter, Tyler Ulis had 4 assists and 2 points, and Booker had 10 of the Suns 29 points for a 29-22 lead.
In the second quarter, we got a few sightings: Skal Labissiere and Georgios Pappagiannis came on for the Kings, and Ronnie Price got his first real action for the Suns. Needless to say, things got a bit ragged.
The Suns kept the lead most of the half, but then the Kings went on an inexplicable (seriously, I watched it and I don’t know how it happened either) 12-2 to take the halftime lead 48-47.
Devin Booker did not score in the second quarter, and T.J. Warren matched Booker’s 10 points for the halftime scoring lead. Alan Williams had a strong 9 points and 6 rebounds, while Tyler Ulis had 4 points and 7 assists.
Alex Len had a bad second quarter. After five first quarter rebounds, he had none in the second quarter but contributed a few missed point-blank shots, a defensive foul and an offensive foul. All quite unnecessary.
For the Kings, skinny Skal Labissiere had 6 points and 5 rebounds in limited but active second-quarter action. Papa didn’t do much, but he had 2 blocks and 2 rebounds in the second quarter.
Kosta Koufos, of course, led the Kings with 10 points and 3 rebounds in the first half. As expected. lol.
Derrick Jones Jr. (back) and Leandro Barbosa (ill) joined the list of Suns who would not play the rest of the game.
And the game just got more and more ragged. It didn’t help that Booker stopped making any shots (2-13 after a 4-5 start(, and that Chriss couldn’t buy a bucket (2-9 from the field, including two missed putbacks/dunks and five missed open threes). Chriss’ only two makes were alley-oops from T.J. Warren.
The Suns and Kings traded shots and rarely separated by more than a couple of scores. Both teams committed way too many turnovers. Maybe it’s because the court was full of almost exclusively 23-and-unders on both sides.
Tyler Ulis got his first career double-double in the NBA before the end of the third quarter - 11 points and 10 assists - topping both on consecutive possessions (a three, then a feed to Big Sauce).
The fourth quarter was the Skal Labissiere show and no one saw that coming. Skal had the Kings first 16 points of the quarter, helping them to a 5-point lead before any other King scored. The Suns couldn’t stop the kid - he was doing things all over the court, including making his first three of his NBA career.
Skal’s previous career high was 16 points. Tonight: 31. Plus 10 rebounds. Yeah.
Marquese Chriss finally woke up offensively with 8 fourth quarter points of his own, plus three rebounds and a couple more blocks. If he could only hit his free throws (3-7 on the night), he’d be even better.
But Devin Booker never got on track again. Booker missed 17 of 19 shots after a hot start and some of the shots weren’t even close.