Blowout Turns Nailbiter, but Suns beat Heat to advance to SL Finals

Dec. 26, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: New York Knicks guard Jason Kidd (right) controls the ball against Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A game that looked like an easy win for Phoenix, enabling them to cruise to the inaugural Vegas summer league Finals, turned into a gut-check and test of execution for the Suns as they beat the Heat 91-89.

After several minutes of poor play in the first quarter, the Suns squad began getting into their rhythm. They were up by three points at the end of one, but blew that open to a 14-point lead by halftime.

During the third quarter, the younger Suns players felt comfortable and started to get a little sloppy. Coming out of the half, Miami’s defensive intensity really picked up. By the end of the third, Miami had cut down the deficit to only five points. That was when P.J. Tucker, by far the oldest player out there rallied his team in two distinct ways. With his play, he forced his will upon Miami’s frontcourt. He bullied in for baskets close to the hoop and ripped rebounds away from Heat players. Vocally, he calmed down the young’ns, getting them focused as the team’s execution down the stretch, especially Tucker’s, was enough to pull out the win.

Of course veteran P.J. Tucker was a beast on the court when needed. His vocal leadership will help this developing Suns team this upcoming year. Tucker finished the game with 19 points, including some in the final minutes to ice the game.

The Morris twins both played well, although not out of their minds like some other games during summer league. Marcus scored 17 points before fouling out, while Markieff had 10 including the final Suns points on a drive, forcing his way for an easy basket.

Kendall Marshall played pretty well. His only points came off of a great three in rhythm. That is one aspect of his game that has definitely improved. Last season, he would have been hesitant to shoot and kept swinging the ball around the perimeter, under the guise of getting his teammates open, when he should have shot when he was open. He passes were on point and his assist to turnover ratio was a spectacular six assists to only one turnover (which happened to be pretty bad).

Archie Goodwin only had seven points, but it still seemed like he was everywhere. He even had a fantastic in-bounds play where he caught the ball with one hand, was fouled, and banked it in as he was falling back. Unfortunately, it was waved off as the foul came before he even received the ball.

Other notes

  • The Suns were efficient again as they shot 54.4 % from the field.
  • Dionte Christmas and Arinze Onuaku both finished with 10 points while Chris Babb had nine.
  • Onuaku was using his size well down low, sealing off the defender until the game’s pace started to pick up.
  • Diante Garrett isn’t putting up amazing numbers, but he is being efficient. His plus/minus was +13, again one of the highest on the team.

The Suns now wait to play either the Golden State Warriors or Charlotte Bobcats summer league squad on Monday.

Topics: Basketball, NBA, P.j Tucker, Phoenix Suns, Sports, Summer League

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