The Suns may have entered Round 2 of the Summer League Tournament as the lower seed, but the team fought through adversity and refused to be looked at as a lesser team.
After defeating the Utah Jazz the night before, the Suns advanced to tipoff against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night.
An early loss of Marquese Chriss (ankle sprain) left the Suns without their most NBA-experienced player. The Grizzlies quickly took advantage of the situation and went up by double-digits.
“Obviously with him down we were missing a big part of our team,” Josh Jackson said about Chriss. “But the next guy has to step up and we’ve got to just try to all fill that void.”
The Suns did just that as they fought their way back into the game thanks to the scoring efforts of Mike James and Dragan Bender.
Highlights: Mike James Scores 32 Points vs Grizzlies
“He’s getting better,” Coach Marlon Garnett said about James. “I think over the course of the week he’s gotten better. We’ve been staying on him and making sure he understands that’s what he needs to be. He has to be a floor general.”
The 26-year-old rookie scored 32 points to go along with his five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
James hit a three-point jumper with just 21 seconds left in the game to tie it up for the Suns. Although the Grizzlies would follow that up with a make of their own and eventually seal the game, the effort by Phoenix to fight their way back showed a high sense of maturity from such a young team.
“We had a good enough team to win today,” James said. “We played hard enough to win today. Just didn’t go our way.”
Highlights: Suns 98 Grizzlies 102
Even in the loss, Garnett was proud of the way his team didn’t give up and kept battling until the final whistle.
“Hopefully it stuck,” Garnett said. “Hopefully they’ll keep their heads and we’ll come out and use that same resilience to try to get a win tomorrow.”
The Suns will have one final Summer League game against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. The Kings were the Suns first matchup in Vegas where Phoenix came up on top 89-85.