Suns start Richaun Holmes over Deandre Ayton in Portland
The Phoenix Suns changed their starting lineup once again on Thursday, starting Richaun Holmes over No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Ayton is active for the Suns and checked in three minutes into the game. Fox Sports Arizona said Ayton was not feeling well but would try and play.
The Athletic’s Gina Mizell reports that head coach Igor Kokoskov told reporters before the game he was going with the same starting lineup from Tuesday that did have Ayton starting. Holmes said after the game on Thursday he found out he was starting at shootaround earlier in the day. Ayton told reporters after the game he had stomach problems the night before.
“He had some stomach issues and didn’t feel right, and it was my decision not to play him at all but he insisted on playing the game and that was the adjustment we made,” Kokoskov said, per the Associated Press. “I was surprised he even played in this game.”
The team was already without Devin Booker (left hamstring strain) and T.J. Warren (right ankle soreness) due to injury.
Ayton was criticized for his effort in the Suns’ 122-105 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. In that game, the Suns were outscored 36-9 in the first quarter.
On the season, Ayton is averaging 16.0 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He is shooting 60 percent from the field.
Holmes, meanwhile, has impressed with his energy off the bench. In 13.5 minutes an outing, Holmes is posting 6.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.0 blocks per game.
The Suns lost the game 108-86. Ayton played 27 minutes while Holmes finished with 21.
With the loss on Thursday night to the Trail Blazers, the Suns have lost 10 of their last 11 games and have the league’s worst record at 4-21.