LAS VEGAS — It will go down as the single worst defeat in the history of the Phoenix Suns franchise. On Friday night, the Summer League team sent from the Valley was vanquished by the D-League Select team, 89-75.
That’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but there weren’t many positives to take away from Phoenix’s third straight loss here in Las Vegas. As we’ve repeatedly cautioned, there is little sense in drawing conclusions from the small sample size against players who, by and large, will not even be in training camp in a couple of months.
With that caveat out of the way, rookie Kendall Marshall continued to underwhelm, and Markieff Morris got off to a slow start after dominating competition in his past two games. Morris finished strong to lead all Suns with 16 points (to go along with six rebounds and two assists), but the cold opening by Phoenix allowed the D-League Select team to open up a nine-point lead in the first quarter.
The Suns tried to claw their way back into the game, but the margin kept widening as the 3-pointers refused to fall; Phoenix ended up 6-for-21 from deep on the night, with Marshall and Morris combining to go 0-for-8. Marshall’s disappointment in his own performance was palpable after the game. He noted that he couldn’t remember losing three games in the span of even a month since high school, prior to this Summer League losing schneid. Coach Dan Majerle, in his postgame comments, encouraged Marshall to keep shooting, saying that was the only way a young player could gain the confidence necessary in his shot.
That confidence — and the resultant uptick in shooting one would expect — will be key to Phoenix’s offense this year. Each time that Marshall made an entry pass last night, particularly to Morris, his defender would sag off him to double the post, gumming up the ball movement and the bigs’ ability to operate around the basket. Marshall certainly showed flashes of his excellent court vision and passing ability, hitting open players on difficult skip passes, but those positives were balanced by several unforced turnovers, including a gorgeous pass to a fan in the fourth row.
Of players not likely to make it to training camp, Charles Garcia was the most impressive. He was generally effective around the rim on both ends of the court, protecting the rim on defense (insomuch as that actually happens at Summer League) and nearly jumping out of the gym on offense. He would have been a candidate for dunk of the night on one spectacular attempt, but the ball drew back iron.
The Suns play their final game of Summer League tonight at 7 MST, against the Memphis Grizzlies.