It was yet another Ish Smith revenge game.
The Phoenix Suns dropped a close one late to the Nuggets at the hands of an Ish Smith dagger, which is the ultimate preseason headline.
Each team played shorthanded, and the Suns were in control for most of this one, but a late Denver surge overtook the Suns in the final minutes of the game.
Phoenix was outscored by seven in the 2nd half and fell 107-105 after a pair of Ish Smith jumpers iced the game. Smith (17 points, 7 assists) played for the Suns in the 2013-14 season, one of 13 teams for whom Smith has played in his 13 year career.
The Suns started forward Torrey Craig in place of the injured Cam Johnson in this one. Each team got off to relatively hot shooting starts in the first quarter of action.
Damion Lee was the first substitute that checked in for Phoenix, filling in for Torrey Craig’s spot in the rotation. Shortly after Jock Landale and Duane Washington Jr. joined Lee as the next pair of reserves to check in.
Josh Okogie later checked in making his Phoenix Suns debut.
Mikal Bridges led the Suns in first quarter points with 9 on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range, while Deandre Ayton chipped in with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting with 5 rebounds.
Bones Hyland led Denver with 9 points and 4 rebounds after one.
Phoenix led 35-30 after the 1st quarter of action behind 63.3 percent shooting from three (7-11) in the first twelve minutes.
PHX 35, DEN 30 after one.— The Bright Side (@BrightSideSun) October 11, 2022
Suns shoot 7-of-11 from deep (63.6%) from deep. Mikal 9 points on three made three's. Ayton with 8 and 5.
Josh Okogie has a head band on. Now you know everything that has happened.
The Suns' bench play looked crisp, as guys are starting to settle into their roles and gain comfort with one another.
It was still a bit sloppy from time to time as preseason basketball tends to be, but it was good to see the ball movement looking more Suns-like.
It was also fun to watch the big fella do stuff like this:
At the half, Phoenix led Denver 59-54.
Phoenix’s leading scorers: Ayton (15), Bridges (12), Booker (11)
Denver’s leading scorers: Hyland (14), Porter Jr. (7), Green (6)
The Suns continued their steady play in the third quarter, showing effort on both sides of the floor.
This was my favorite sequence from the entire game, as Deandre Ayton showed playoff-level intensity in this defensive play.
Ayton shuts down MPJ, steals the pass to Jordan pic.twitter.com/myWwUD4Wjr— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) October 11, 2022
Phoenix's bench did get outscored heavily in this one, which on the surface would be expected with Payne, Shamet, Johnson, Saric, and Crowder out, but there’s not much of an excuse when you look at all the bodies Denver was missing.
Phoenix was outscored by two points in the 3rd quarter and led 81-78 entering the final frame.
Denver didn’t take their first lead of the game until over halfway through the 4th quarter at 92-91.
Phoenix’s closing unit of Duane Washington, Frank Jackson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Ish Wainright, and Jock Landle struggled to close it out, surrendering the slight advantage they inherited after an 11-4 Denver run to fall behind by 5.
Shortly thereafter, the Suns stormed back and went on a 7-0 run thanks to a clutch three by Jock Landle cut the lead to 2, followed by a Cabarrot jumper and then a fastbreak jam from Jock to regain the lead, 102-100 with 2:00 minutes remaining.
The teams traded points until it hit 105 all, then Ish Smith hit this dagger against his former team.
Stars of the Game
Deandre Ayton — 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 9/12 FG.
Ish Smith — 17 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 7/12 FG, game-winner.
The Suns will host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in the preseason finale.