NAZ Suns led by as many as 32 points, win 103-78
PRESCOTT VALLEY – In a league that is dominated by offensive players trying to show what they can do with the ball in order to get noticed, the Northern Arizona Suns are impressing when they don’t have the ball.
The Suns entered Tuesday night’s game against the Salt Lake City Stars at the Lifetime Activities Center-Bruin Arena tied with the Windy City Bulls for the league’s third best defense, only allowing 99.5 points per game.
That average dipped to 96.4 points per game that opponents score against them after the Suns beat the Stars 103-78 in front of 1,007 fans.
The Suns improved to 6-1 with the win, and it was their fifth game this season they have allowed under 90 points to their opponent. This was the 75th NBA D-League regular season game of the season, and there have now been 18 incidents where a team has failed to score at least 90 points out of the 150 involved in those games. The Suns defense is responsible for almost a third of those low scoring games.
Northern Arizona forced 19 turnovers, which led to 30 points, and only allowed the Stars to shoot 27-for-72 from the field (37.5 percent). Derrick Jones Jr. had four steals, Elijah Millsap and Josh Gray each had a pair of steals, and Michael Bryson had his third multi-block game of the season.
The Stars, who were led by Sundiata Gaines and his 15 points, fell behind early and never got the deficit under 10 points in the second half. They trailed by 32 points with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter, before falling to 1-7 on the year after their 25-point loss.
Millsap and Johnny O’Bryant led the Suns with 17 points apiece. Shaquille Harrison achieved a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Jones recorded 16 points and five rebounds to go with those four steals, while Josh Gray contributed 13 points and eight assists.
Bryson, who was the first round pick in this year’s NBA D-League Draft for the NAZ Suns, scored in double figures for the first time this season, chipping in 12 points. Meanwhile, the Suns’ leading scorer Askia Booker, who puts up 22.5 points per game, missed his second straight contest with a groin injury.
The Suns get a few days off before returning to action back at home against the Reno Bighorns on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.
The Stars hit the road for the fifth time this season, as they get set to take on the Los Angeles D-Fenders on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. PT.
|NAZ Suns||6||1||0.857||0||6-1||4-1||4-0||2-1||6-1||W3||Phx. Suns|
|LA D-Fenders||6||2||0.750||0.5||6-2||3-0||3-1||3-1||6-2||W1||LA Lakers|
|Santa Cruz Warriors||2||4||0.333||3.5||2-4||0-3||2-2||0-2||2-4||L3||Warriors|
|Salt Lake City Stars||1||7||0.125||5.5||1-7||0-3||1-3||0-4||1-7||L2||Jazz|