Before we get into this game, let's give credit where credit is due. Marcus Morris had a big steal and the game-winning shot but the Suns wouldn't have been close enough late in this game if Kendall Marshall hadn't drained two threes in the final two minutes of the game.
I really don't know what to make of these shots from Kendall.
He didn't look good for most of the game, a fact his head coach acknowledged, but when it was time to step up Marshall reversed his trend of passing up shot opportunities and he drained the big buckets. He finished with 13 points on 3-6 shooting (3-5 from three) and had six assists and no turnovers.
Does this change the way I feel about this young player? No...at least not yet.
"Kendall can shoot it when he's out there and he's left open. What we're always talking to him about is getting his shot up. He's going to prove he can make those shots and all of sudden they're going to guard him a little harder but today he shot it with confidence, it was right there, and he hit two huge shots for us," Hornacek said after the game.
Look, coach is right of course. But I'll be happy with him just taking and hitting those open shots and forcing the defense to respect him enough to open up some more passing lanes. Too many times I saw him drive and the defenders just stayed home and he turned down open 10 and 15 foot pull-up jumpers. Realistically, there's a lot of guys that can hit wide open threes. If Kendall is at least one of those, we can start talking about the next steps.
As for the differences between the first quarter (Suns went down 32-14) and the second half (they won 60-50), Marcus Morris put the blame on the dreaded "E" word.
"Our energy early on wasn't matching their energy. In the second half, that was the main thing in the locker room, was to come out with energy," the smaller Morris said before adding this bit about pride, "It was kind of embarrassing. We had the most veteran guys on our team. We actually have (NBA) starters, so we definitely had to step it up and match their intensity and once we did that it showed."
Both Marcus and Coach Jeff said that the plan is for this Morris to play a "big three" in the regular season. He's mostly played the four in Summer League with Markieff at the five, but the plan is for him to play small forward.
The energy and intensity were certainly an issue early in the game, but the Suns were also running a tightly controlled version of their motion offense in the first quarter. Assistant coach Jerry Sichting explains:
"We've got a play that's got a flex cut in it where we're trying to post up and we didn't do a very good job feeding the post when we were making that cut. It's timing...We've let them play in the second half. That's the thing. We scored 50 points, I believe, in the second half in Game 1 against Portland and tonight we got 60 in the second half. We've tried to tell them that we want to play with pace and that eventually we'll wear teams down and the first two games, anyway, it's come to fruition."
What I saw sitting a few rows up on the sideline was the Suns calling and trying to run the exact same play every time down the floor. It wasn't working but this is not a regular game and the coaching staff kept trying to give them opportunities to get it right. When they finally turned the dogs loose the Summer Suns extra talent was able to shine and the results have been two-straight wins.
-- Markieff finished with 22 points and six rebounds (and seven fouls in a very poorly officiated game). He had 16 of those in the second half.
-- Dionte Christmas showed why he's close to being an NBA player but not quite there. He added 16 off the bench and showed good poise but nothing special about his game that makes you want to spend a roster spot on him.
-- The Suns tried to give Goodwin some looks at point guard but it wasn't really anything to write home about. As expected, his best move was coast-to-coast finish off a rebound where he was able to show his speed and athleticism. You might as well just think "raw talent" every time you see/hear the name "Archie Goodwin".
-- The BIG THREE BIGS all looked like non-NBA players. Onuaku was the best of the bunch showing his energy and rebounding ability (six boards in 16 minutes) but he doesn't seem to have good hands or much skill at all offensively. The other two looked worse so far. I suspect that we'll see less and less of the Morris brothers at the four and five and these cats will get increased minutes as the week goes on. Maybe.