NAZ Suns Hang Tough with Undefeated Hustle
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona Suns gave all they had against the last undefeated team in the NBA G League, but they couldn't come up with the win, losing to the Memphis Hustle on Tuesday night 116-110.
The Suns (2-7) stayed within a possession or two it seemed the entirety of Tuesday's contest at the Findlay Toyota Center, as each of the last three quarters was decided by three points or less. The Hustle improved to 9-0 with the win, tying the NBA G League record for most wins to start a season without a loss, matching Rio Grande Valley's 9-0 start in 2013-14.
In recent games, the Hustle have gotten off to quick starts, and they did that yet again tonight, but the Suns kept pace enough. Memphis shot 14-of-25 (.560) in the opening frame, taking a 35-27 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Memphis cooled off considerably, but Northern Arizona couldn't take full advantage. The Hustle took a 61-52 lead into the locker room. Ahmed Hill had 20 points in the first half on 7-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-7 from distance, earning a career-high in just 19 minutes of action with a whole half left to play.
In the third quarter, the Suns' defense stifled Memphis, who is the league's best shooting team from distance, as the Hustle went 0-of-7 from beyond the arc in the frame. Unfortunately for NAZ, they also failed to make a long shot in the quarter, and the Suns trailed 83-77 entering the fourth quarter. Both teams shot lights out from beyond the arc in the final frame, and from the field, the Suns made 12-of-18 (.667) shots. The Suns got within five points with under 20 seconds to play, but Memphis went on to make their free throws.
The Suns actually outshot the Hustle 40-of-84 (.476) to 38-of-94 (.404), and they outshot them from distance 11-of-29 (.379) to 12-of-39 (.308). Northern Arizona also outrebounded Memphis 46-44 and outscored them in the paint 48-40. Memphis' 19-of-25 (.760) clip from the free throw line and the turnover difference (25-14) proved to be the deciding factors.
Jared Harper led all scorers with 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-7 from distance, to go with a team-high six assists. This was Harper's second career 30+ point game, his first since the Suns' season opener on Nov. 9 in which he dropped 34 points. He is averaging 23.1 points on the season.
Hill finished with a career-high 27 points (9-18 FG, 4-9 3PT, 3-3 FT), to go with five rebounds and three assists. He bested his previous high of 16 points vs. Texas on Nov. 13.
Two other Suns scored in double figures. Daxter Miles Jr. earned 14 points, five rebounds and two assists. He extended his career-long streak of scoring 10+ points to seven games. Anthony Lawrence II had 11 points (4-6 FG, 2-4 3PT), six rebounds and four assists. Tariq Owens had four blocks to go with seven points and four rebounds.
Memphis' Josh Jackson led the team with 26 points (8-19 FG, 6-13 3PT), to go with 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. This marked Jackson's second straight double-double and fifth of the season. Jarrod Uthoff also had a double-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks. Matt Mooney joined his two teammates in scoring 20+ points, pouring in 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, to go with four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
These two teams will square off again at the Findlay Toyota Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. MT.
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