EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Jalen Smith produces again, Summer Suns get 1st win in Las Vegas

Aug 12, 2021, 9:50 PM
Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns grabs a loose ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 20...
Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns grabs a loose ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 8, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It has not been for a lack of effort with the Phoenix Suns’ Summer League squad. Even in two losses where the quality of play was low, the Summer Suns were still playing hard and competing on both ends.

That plus more time together had them go through an offensive breakthrough of sorts in a 90-84 win over the Denver Nuggets Thursday night in Las Vegas.

In their first two games, the Suns scored 72 and 57 points, respectively. Their shooting percentage was still a bit rough against Denver, at 36.1%, but they got 13 3s to fall and went 25-of-26 (96.2%) at the free-throw line.

Jalen Smith, the 2020 first-round pick, is now 3-for-3 on double-doubles in Summer League play, and Thursday’s was the best of the trio.

Smith scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds. Despite a 6-of-15 shooting mark, Smith shot 4-of-7 from deep and 5-for-5 on free tosses to get that scoring number north of 20.

The highlight was a straight-line drive to the basket after an aggressive closeout, a good visualization of his potential versatility at the NBA level.

That one-dribble attack is something Smith showed at Maryland. While he was on the floor with a center in that clip, Smith was playing a bit more of the 5 against the Nuggets, and that type of space is going to be there more often for him if he’s at that position as opposed to the 4.

Smith’s 3-ball hadn’t been going down as consistently in the first two games, including a trio of airballs in the opener, but the shot looked pure on Thursday. He told the NBATV broadcast after the game he’s never going to lose confidence in his jumper.

“Like coach Monty (Williams) [says]: Reps remove doubt,” he said postgame.

Kyle Alexander had 15 points and eight rebounds while Jaleen Smith added 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Summer Suns have their last scheduled game on Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers at 6 p.m. on NBATV. They’ll wrap up play with a fifth game to be scheduled at a later time.

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