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Recap: Suns lose second Summer League game, 79-69, as Elie Okobo gets first start

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Okobo had a strong game after limited minutes and helped the Suns compete with a strong Memphis roster.

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Grizzlies’ NBA talent was a little too much for the Suns on Tuesday night as Memphis beat Phoenix, 79-69.

The Las Vegas nightlife jumped out to an early lead in this one, as both teams were lethargic and no one managed to make a consistent impact. Elie Okobo started, so the hope was the second-year guard could make up for lost time after limited minutes in Sunday’s opener, but he looked to facilitate rather than score early. The Suns’ shooters weren’t as hot from deep as they were Sunday, in part because the Memphis defense played well.

When Ray Spalding made his first appearance of Summer League midway through the first period, his energy made a difference. It was good to see him get on the court after an injury forced him to miss the first game, and he looked a bit bigger than that last time we saw him take the floor. His six points and three rebounds early helped the Suns stick around when no one else could make anything happen.

A strip here, a putback there, a sweet dime next — Spalding was the best player on the floor in the first half. He’s only entering his second NBA season but he might already be too good for Summer League. He’s probably a top candidate to fill one of the Suns’ two-way slots this upcoming season.

Later on, the shooting came alive again. It’s becoming clear James Jones’ front office can identify and maximize shooting talent. Everyone from David Kramer to Sunday’s leading scorers, James Palmer Jr. and Rayvonte Rice, hit shots in the second quarter to get in on the fun.

The game felt more like Sunday’s game should have, going up against a Summer League roster with so much legitimate NBA talent like the Grizzlies. Between Brandon Clarke, Grayson Allen, John Konchar, Bruno Caboclo and Ivan Rabb, Memphis has a deep and experienced roster compared with the Suns.

Before the game, at the press conference announcing Ricky Rubio’s signing, coach Monty Williams said the priority in Las Vegas this week was to create a competitive environment for the Summer League players that can carry over to training camp.

Coach Willie Green changed up the rotation a bit Tuesday to give other guys an opportunity to impress. Kramer didn’t play Sunday but impressed against Memphis, making three of his first four shots for seven points. Okobo was impressive on offense without looking score in his first start of Summer League, dishing a couple nice drive-and-kick passes and scoring off a few nice cuts.

In the end, Memphis’ early lead was too much and the Suns couldn’t keep up.

The Suns’ next game game is at 4:00 p.m. MST on Wednesday night against the Spurs.