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Summer Suns win opener over Baby Kings, 89-85

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News, notes and anecdotes on the Suns win.

NBA: Summer League-Final-Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Summer Suns introduced most of the principal members of #TheTimeline tonight and were able to hold on to win the game over the equally young and even deeper Sacramento Kings on the opening day of Las Vegas Summer League, 89-85.

None of Josh Jackson (6 for 17 field goals), Marquese Chriss (5 for 17) or Dragan Bender (4 for 13) shot well from the field, but the Suns held off the Kings with three more three pointers and a couple more free throws. That’s about it.

Box score

Player of the game - Davon Reed

While Chriss and Bender and Jackson all had good moments and stretches, I have to give the game ball to second round pick (#32 overall) Davon Reed.

Reed made 6 of 11 field goals, showed real good instincts on both ends of the court (including 2 steals), and most of all had the best looking jumper on the team at least on this night. Reed gets the shot off with a high release and looks smooth all the way through the follow through - just a tiny bit reminding me of Wesley Person’s stroke a long time ago for you old timers.

He had 17 points in only 20 minutes of play, including 2 for 4 on threes.

Runner-up - Derrick Jones Jr.

DJJ is looking like a real player this year, with a MUCH improved looking three point stroke from the corner, as well as better finishing in the paint with contact.

He defended rookie flash De’Aaron Fox most of the game and largely held Fox in check until a fourth quarter flourish.

Airplane Mode had a workmanlike 10 points (4 of 6 shooting), 4 rebounds and a steal.

Point Bender?

We got a tiny dose of Point Bender tonight, with him as the primary ball handler toward the end of the first quarter when Davon Reed replaced Mike James.

Bender’s first possession was a nice half court alley-oop to Marquese Chriss (Chriss was fouled, so no assist), but his second ended up bad as he tripped trying to drive between defenders. Didn’t see much Point Bender after that.

But Bender overall had a good game, with decisive catch-and-shoot spot ups and a couple of turn arounds in the post on the baseline. He also kept the ball moving on offense, played smart defense (often on Skal Labissiere), and finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds overall.

Chriss in the post

A clear emphasis for the Suns is getting Marquese Chriss more touches in the post. He drove and spun often against second-year man Georgios Papagiannis and summer league veteran Jack Cooley.

Chriss missed a few inside shots and committed 8 turnovers on the night, but he’s trying so there’s that and he got to the line A LOT against the lumbering defenders. Despite missing Chriss missed all four of his wide open three point attempts, he still finished with a team high 19 points thanks to making 9 of 13 free throws.

He fought in traffic for rebounds (yay!), grabbing a team high 9 on the night.

On the defensive end, Chriss is still Chriss, committing 9 fouls (summer league allows 10 before you really really foul out).

Overall though, Chriss was a team high +9 on the court playing 33 of the 40 game minutes.

Action Jackson

Offensively, Josh Jackson is hardly better than Archie Goodwin was in his first summer league. Jackson drives hard and successfully in traffic, but his jumper is hitchy and awful looking. Like Archie.

But the rest of Jackson’s game is MUCH better than Archie ever provided. Jackson stayed active on both ends, including passing well, fighting for offensive and defense boards and staying with his man defensively. Those are things Goodwin never added to his game.

If you look only at Jackson’s shooting (6 of 17) you might think he disappointed, but all the other aspects of his game were impressive. Jackson finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block.

Other notes

Mike James, signed to a two-way contract, finished with a relatively quiet 12 points, 7 assists and 4 steals.

De’Aaron Fox monstered a bit at the end, finishing with 18 points, 4 assists and 5 steals for Sacramento. Otherwise, their best player was another rookie Justin Jackson, who had 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting.

HUGE THANKS to Geoff (@gtallen89), Justin (@soSaysJ) and Paul (@dervishofwhirl) for gutting out reveling in the Laker game loss with me before the Suns/Kings game here at Thomas and Mack in Vegas. Had a great time guys!