EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Summer Suns gel early in Las Vegas with win over Lakers

Jul 8, 2022, 9:36 PM | Updated: Jul 10, 2022, 10:31 am
Scotty Pippen Jr. #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by Ahmad Caver #4 of the Phoenix Suns duri...
Scotty Pippen Jr. #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by Ahmad Caver #4 of the Phoenix Suns during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images,)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images,)

Most of the time, the quality of basketball in the NBA’s Summer League is rather low. It’s rare you’re going to see some competent team play on both ends, which is why the Phoenix Suns’ squad should be commended for the way they started play on Friday with a 104-84 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the early-going, it was clear Phoenix was focused and prepared to defend as a team. Strong defensive principles and communication popped when you fatcor in how this group has only been together for a week.

Offensively, everyone was sharing the ball and pushing the pace. Assists were 25-11 Suns.

Naturally, all of this together made things easier for everyone and multiple Suns had strong nights.

Point guard McKinley Wright IV had his intangibles on display we got to know in the Pac-12 at Colorado. He made sound passes while being one of the strongest defenders on the evening. Wright filled the stat sheet up with eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.

Louis King showed the scoring pop that made him last year’s Summer League MVP with 20 points and forward Ish Wainright showcased his continued improvement as a shooter.

Wainright knocked down five of his nine attempts from 3-point range for 17 points, and a few of those came from him shooting off movement.

For a guy who hardly shot 3s in college five years ago to have his footwork and confidence in that good of a spot speaks to the hard work the 27-year-old has put in.

Phoenix led for most of the first half before its overall team play stayed consistent enough to extend the lead to 18 points in the mid-third quarter to break the game open.

Elsewhere, keep an eye on guard Ahmad Caver. He had a few great moments where his quickness and ability to get into the lane caused problems for Los Angeles. Caver produced eight points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 18 minutes.

Ditto for Olivier Sarr, a seven-footer who played 22 games for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. He moves his feet well at that size and covered a lot of ground quickly to amount to a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in just 14 minutes.

Wainright, of course, was on the Suns’ roster all last year while Wright, King, Caver and Sarr all have their own bits of NBA experience on a roster mostly without it. Phoenix has yet to fill a two-way spot this offseason and could start with someone from the summer league roster.

The Suns play their second game of summer league on Sunday against the Washington Wizards at 2:30 p.m.

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