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Recap: Rally falls short as Summer Suns lose to Kings

Suns fell behind early without Olivier Sarr (calf) and never fully recovered.

2022 Las Vegas Summer League- Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns (2-2) lost their fourth Summer League game 69-82 to the Sacramento Kings (2-2) while missing frontcourt standout Olivier Sarr with a calf strain. The still-unsigned Wainright led the Suns in scoring with 13 points.

First Half

Suns had a miscommunication on the first possession, ending in a turnover, but on their second, Ish Wainright found Louis King on a nice backdoor cut, showing off more of Wainright’s added headiness and precision dimes.

After a solid game 3, Jo Lual Acuil Jr. got the start in this one, and Kings center Neemias Queta absolutely played JLA on his first post possession, with Queta losing JLA on a spin move.

Wainright’s activity continued in the early-goings of this one as he tallied two deflections, a transition block, and quality point of attack defense in addition to getting a few threes up, like this fundamentally sound one:

Throughout the rest of the first quarter, the Suns played a lot of good defense, but Kings got shots to go. Suns played a lot of good offense, but had a hard time getting shots to go. Phoenix trailed 12-22; Kings rookie and 4th pick Keegan Murray hit a tough three at the buzzer to extend that lead.

Wainright hit a three to give the Suns their first bucket of the second, and his jumpers are really looking beautiful time in and time out, then that point of attack defense of his reared its ugly head again, forcing a Sacramento turnover on the following possession and even took a charge shortly after. The squad’s mainstay set the tone in a major way for the rest of the guys.

Fitting the theme of the first quarter’s ending, Keon Ellis — who I desperately wish the Suns signed after he wasn’t selected in this year’s draft — hit a stepback long 2 at the shot clock’s buzzer to extend Sacramento’s lead.

Phoenix trailed 36-52 with a team effort in the scoring column; none were in double figures, but Wainright led the way with 8 and was 2-5 from deep in the half.

Second Half

It was more of the same in the third; usual suspects showing usual flashes, Sacramento hitting shots over bad defense, Phoenix missing good shots. The Kings built out to a 20-point lead early.

Murray took over the third with 11 points in the frame without playing all 10 minutes, so in a sense he hammered the nails into the coffin as Phoenix couldn’t make up much ground on that 20-point deficit, despite having countless wide open opportunities.

They continued to trail 51-72 going into the fourth. McKinley Wright IV became the first — and only, for now — Sun into double figures with 11.

DJ Vasiljevic saw some fourth quarter action — his first of the game — and hit a couple early threes to bring the Suns within 15. By the 5:51 mark, Suns were within 12 and forced a turnover into a timeout after even more high-impact hustle from Wainright. The next sequence would show whether this comeback energy is for real or not.

Immediately out of that break, Wainright hit a cutting Vasiljevic for a floater that got the game within 10. And after the ensuing Kings travel extending a 1-point period of over 8:30 for them, the comeback was officially on?

Phoenix maintained the defensive pressure that brought the comeback to life, but they struggled to keep much offense alive, starting their own scoring drought before Sacramento got their first basket of the quarter on a Queta and-one over the undersized Vasiljevic at the 3:21 mark.

The comeback came up a bit short, and the Kings extended things back out a bit, with 69-82 being the final, Suns falling short and falling to 2-2. Wainright led the way with 13 (3-7 from 3), and Wright IV and Vasiljevic (in only 10 minutes) each contributed 11.

Three Stars of the Game

Three stars: Ish Wainright

Two stars: DJ Vasiljevic

One star: McKinley Wright IV

Up next

Phoenix will have one more contest before closing the book on 2022’s Vegas trip against none other than the same Indiana Pacers that just tried to steal Phoenix’s starting center.

This Sunday, the Summer Suns (2-2) face off against Bennedict Mathurin and the Pacers (2-2) at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU.