LAS VEGAS — Scottie Reynolds wasn’t even expected to play this week after suffering a strained Achilles working out at Villanova last week, his chance at making a summer league impression wasting away by the day.
But after feeling good at Sunday’s practice and Monday morning he came in and told Summer Suns coach Dan Majerle he could suit up, and Reynolds came off the bench to provide the kind of energy one would expect from a first-team All-American at summer league during Phoenix’s 96-88 victory over D-League Select.
“He brought a lot of spark pushing the ball, competitive, it was good to see,” said Summer Suns head coach Dan Majerle. “I’m glad he could play. He’s been wanting to play all week, but it’s kind of one of those things where you don’t want to push him and get him hurt, but I’m glad he was able to go out there and play, and hopefully he can bounce back and play next game, too.”
Reynolds felt good after the game but said with this kind of injury it’s more the next day that he’s most concerned about.
In his court time the Villanova star displayed a nice shooting touch, scoring 16 points on 4-for-6 marksmanship and hitting both threes he attempted. His strong play could be seen in the fact that Phoenix was +10 in his 19 minutes on the floor.
“Just being myself, just go out there and play the game of basketball the way I know how to,” Reynolds said. “With the Suns’ organization it’s just like Villanova, the same principles, the same kind of offense and it’s a little bit heart-warming that I’ve been in this system for four years and be able to be successful.
“I know it was a great opportunity here, and I’m happy I was able to get out there tonight.”
Reynolds was constantly talking and pumping up his teammates on the floor, exuding the leadership we saw from him in college. Although Majerle teased him later about how many questions he asked his coach on the court, he applauded the energy he brought to the floor.
As for if he has a shot at being an NBA player?
“He’s got to improve his shot, but a guy like that who can make plays for other people, you surround him with good players and he can be a good asset for anybody’s team,” Majerle said.
Clark plays better
The biggest story line of the Summer Suns as it pertains to the varsity Suns’ roster undoubtedly is Earl Clark. He entered the summer as the only player expected to be counted on for real minutes, although that could change with the additions of Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress.
Clark certainly won’t have anything handed to him, especially now, but today was a step in the right direction.
He played more in control and let the game come to him instead of forcing the issue with contested jumper after contested jumper, and he finished with a stat line of 18 points, five boards and four assists but six turnovers. He shot 6-for-12 after combining to go 9-for-28 in the first two games.
“Earl has struggled a little bit, but he got his legs under him a little bit more and started playing his kind of game,” Majerle said. “I think he was pushing the first couple games, more looking for his shot and not trying to make anybody better. Today I think he played more within himself and played a lot better.”
Suns rookie forward Gani Lawal isn’t exactly the kind of player you ever expect to throw up a triple-double, but he did exactly that on Monday …. kind of.
Lawal filled up the box score with 15 points, 11 boards and … 10 fouls.
“Gani’s in there. Some of those calls were tough,” Majerle said. “He’s trying to play so hard, and he’s very physical. I don’t know how many illegal screens he got, but that’s OK. It means he’s out there trying to do the right thing, and he’s still out there trying to learn the system and how to play, but I’m impressed with the way he wants to learn and what he does out there.”
Lawal has looked like a guy who could develop into a nice contributor with his physicality and willingness to do the dirty work even if he has been a touch too foul-prone.
Rockets forward Jordan Hill came away impressed with Lawal after banging with him during Friday’s summer league opener.
“Gani, he’s going to be a good player,” Hill said. “He’s very aggressive. He’s got a high motor. He’s the kind of guy who will keep fighting.”
Matt Janning may not have the physical tools to ever be an NBA player, but he’s the kind of heady performer any coach would enjoy having on his team.
After scoring 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting, Majerle was one such coach.
“I love Matt, I think he’s great,” Thunder Dan said. “Can really shoot it, he’s athletic. The thing I like about him more than anything is he knows how to play. He’s got a big basketball IQ, understands what we’re looking for, and he’s a hell of a player.
“What he lacks physically as far as the strength he can make up for. He knows how to play, that makes a big difference.”
Griffin depresses again
Taylor Griffin has not looked like an NBA player through three games of summer league. He continued his poor offensive play on Monday by scoring two points on 1-for-6 shooting, including three more missed long balls.
He’s now 4-for-20 (20 percent) from the floor and has hit 2-of-10 long balls (20 percent as well). That kind of shooting’s not going to get it done for a Suns wing.
Majerle on the Suns playing better today: “I think everybody did a better job. We had two practices, and this is all kind of new stuff for these guys. I think overall everyone was more comfortable. Earl was better, Gani was running the floor well. I think it was just a matter of guys getting to know each other a little better.” … I played in a TrueHoop/SBNation basketball game on Saturday morning. Put up a cool 0-for-10 line before I went Nashian in the final minutes with a big three and two clutch free throws on a drive off a teammate’s steal to turn a four-point deficit into a one-point lead in our win. Here’s the box. At least I put up an all-around line, right? … Suns head coach Alvin Gentry joked with Majerle about getting off the schneid by winning his first summer game this season. … Former assistant GM David Griffin attended the game and chatted with former Suns colleagues after the contest.
The Suns are off on Tuesday and then will return to the court Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. MST against Cleveland.