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Phoenix Suns Derrick Jones, Jr., participates in the slam dunk contest during NBA All-Star Saturday Night basketball events in New Orleans, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)
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Derrick Jones Jr.’s powerful dunk highlights youth movement for Suns against Bulls

When the Phoenix Suns’ starting lineup was released and Alex Len was starting over Tyson Chandler, it was notable, but not considered a shocking move by head coach Earl Watson to get the younger player more playing time.

What would follow in the game, however, was certainly a surprise.

Second-round pick and rookie point guard Tyler Ulis, undrafted second-year center Alan Williams and undrafted rookie wing Derrick Jones Jr. were all a part of the rotation in the first half, and both Chandler and Brandon Knight did not play.

While Ulis had played ahead of Knight during one stretch of the season, he’s only played more than 15 minutes three times entering tonight’s game. As for Williams and Jones, Williams had only seen meaningful rotation minutes when the Suns were missing Len and Chandler, and Jones had only seen garbage time minutes at the end of the game.

That all changed Friday night.

The trio, along with veterans Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley, made up the bench unit for the Suns while all five starters got some rest.

Despite their inexperience, the youngsters played well.

Ulis managed to have an even plus-minus leading the unit and running the offense in the first half, picking up two points, two rebounds and three assists.

Williams and Jones would also score, but as expected, Jones would steal the show with his powerful dunk on a breakaway.

Jones’ resume for highlight-reel dunks is well noted. From what he can do in warmups to doing it with millions watching at home during the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Jones is always one to watch for a big-time slam.

The Suns went into the half up 54-52, a success considering the experience level of a large part of their rotation against a Bulls team that is currently in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

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