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The Phoenix Suns beat the Miami Heat, 91-89, in a game that was much closer than it should have been. The Suns blitzed the Heat in the first half and led by 20 points at one point in the third quarter before the Heat stormed back to momentarily take the lead. In the end, Markieff Morris hit a game-winning shot to help the Suns advance to the Summer League Championship game.

The Suns used a strong performance from their bench to take a 51-37 lead into halftime. They did this without the luxury of having even one player in double-digit figures at the half. Instead, they used great offensive balance and teamwork: 7 different players had at least 4 points by the midway point, with the bench leading the way. Arinze Onuaku and Dionte Christmas each scored 8 points in the first half and Chris Babb pitched in 6 off of two three-pointers.

The highlight of the first half came from a play that didn't even count. Archie Goodwin took an inbounds alley-oop pass from Marshall to hit a FANTASTIC circus tip-shot while being fouled (which was ruled off due to a foul being called before the shot):


The Suns also started the second half on a strong note, with PJ Tucker hitting a long corner two-point shot and following it up with a fast-break three. On the next possession, Marcus Morris converted a beautiful alley-oop pass from Marshall in the half-court and the Suns suddenly had an 18 point lead. However, the Heat used a strong surge through the rest of the quarter to cut the lead to just 5 at the end of the third.

The Suns managed to recover and stretch the lead back to double digits early in the fourth but an 14-0 run from Miami gave them a three point lead with just three minutes left. That's when PJ Tucker took the game back into his own hands. He scored on two impressive shots to give the Suns the lead. After Miami tied it up once again, Markieff Morris used a strong baseline drive to hit a go-ahead shot with 21 seconds left that would prove to be the game-winner.

The Suns kept runnin' and gunnin' and manged to barely finish out a good Miami Heat Summer League squad with a 91-89 victory.

Key Takeaways

-Jeff Hornacek will make this team run, run, and run until the game ends. Regardless of the outcome, the Suns will be exciting to watch this year.

-The Morris brothers were good offensively, for the most part. Markieff may not have scored very much (10 points), but he rebounded and passed the ball well tonight. He also used a hard drive to hit the game-winning shot. Marcus finished with 17 points before he fouled out with 3 minutes left. The twins continue to complement each other well but they have a long way to go defensively. They also continue to foul way too much (Markieff fouled out last game, Marcus this game).

-Kendall Marshall was a bit sloppy in the first half (most of the Suns started the game on a sloppy note) but was good to begin the second half. His stats may not catch many eyes, but he ran the team well and was a significant part of the Suns' fast-break success. In fact, the Suns' offense was at its best tonight with Marshall on the floor. He finished with 3 points, 6 assists, and just 1 turnover in 17 minutes.

-Arinze Onuaku was very good. He used his body well to repeatedly establish great position in the post and finish inside. He also displayed his surprisingly adept ability to run the floor in the fist half with consecutive fast-break buckets. He finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and a block in less than 15 minutes.

-The Suns' trio of guards off the bench were excellent. Dionte Christmas showed off his great scoring touch in a variety of ways (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) and Chriss Babb continued to display his excellent three-point shooting ability (9 points off 3-3 shooting on threes to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists). Diante Garrett was a big part of the Suns' huge first half lead and ran the team well, although he struggled a bit in the second (6 points and 3 assists). Even though the Suns are well-stocked at the guard positions, one of these three could very well make the roster.

-PJ Tucker is just a man among boys. The fact that he's playing in Summer League really isn't fair to the rest of the guys out there. Tucker took over in the fourth when the Suns needed him the most and finished the game was the team's leading scorer with 19 points.

-The venerable Archie Goodwin didn't have the eye-popping sort of game he did yesterday, but he was very good nonetheless. He scored 7 points to go with 5 rebounds but more importantly, he continued to showcase the skills, hustle, and feel for the game that has fans swooning every time they hear his name. Much to the chagrin of Suns fans, Hornacek kept Archie on the bench for most of the fourth quarter for some reason.

The Suns will play the winner of the Charlotte-Golden State game in the first ever Summer League Championship game tomorrow (6pm AZ time) in a match to decide which team takes home all the summer marbles.

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The Phoenix Suns face the Miami Heat 3PM PST (AZ time)/6PM EST in a game that will decide one of the two final teams of the 2013 NBA Summer League Tournament.

The Suns' Summer League Domination

The Phoenix Suns are not only one of just two undefeated (5-0) teams remaining in Vegas, they're also highest scoring team in Summer League, blitzing their opponents to the tune of 93.6 points per game in Vegas. In the NBA's regular 48 minute game, that pace would lead to a 112 ppg average. Hornacek definitely wasn't lying when he said he would make this team run. Run N Gun, Summer Suns!

The Suns are also scoring efficiently, shooting 48% from the field and 42% from the three point line. The team's free shooting has been subpar at a mere 69%, but the Summer Suns are getting to the line 33.4 times a game, which not only leads Summer League but is a higher average than any team in the 2012-13 regular season. The team that shot the most free throws last year (shocker: the LA Lakers) got to the line 27.9 times per game, so that show the Suns are REALLY attacking the rim.

The Opposition

The Miami Heat team is 4-2 in Las Vegas and is averaging 82.6 points per game. They set this year's Summer League scoring record by absolutely demolishing the Knicks in a 113-66 game on Wednesday so just like the Suns, this team can score.

Miami also played in the Orlando Summer League with several undrafted rookies such as Myck Kabongo, Jackie Carmichael, and DJ Stephens. Although those guys won't be playing tonight, Miami's Las Vegas squad also boasts some quality Summer League talent in players like James Ennis (Miami's second round pick this year), Jarvis Varnado (Miami's second round pick in 2010), Erick Griffin (undrafted 2012), and DJ Kennedy (a D-League All-Star and Champion).

Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will not be playing tonight because they are afraid of Archie Goodwin. Some champs they are.

Back to the Finals - 20 years later

The last time the Phoenix Suns competed for a championship was in 1993. I'd argue that this 2013 iteration is even more equipped (relatively) to bring home the title they're competing for. EYES ON THE PRIZE.

Both of these teams like to score so I expect lots of offense in this one. When it's all said and done, the Suns have more NBA talent on their Summer League roster than the Heat do. If they are indeed playing to win in Vegas, they should be able to take care of business against Miami and earn a seat in the championship game tomorrow. The winner of this game plays the winner of the Charlotte-Golden State game for all the summer marbles.

In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Suns can start be defeating the reigning NBA champions tonight. The stakes are high in this one, folks, so be sure to tune in to see what the likes of Kendall Marshall, PJ Tucker, the Morris twins, and of course, ARCHIE "BEST PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS" GOODWIN have in store in an effort to cement the Suns' place in Summer League History.

NOTE: This is my first ever Suns Game Preview/Thread so let's hope I can be some good luck for the team going forward (or at least not bring bad luck).

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Salutations everyone! My name is Eric - formerly known as NashMV3 to some of you longtime Bright Siders. I've been a member of this wonderful website since December 2009 and Dave King, our prodigious Overlord, brought me on earlier this season to edit and proofread the staff writers' articles behind-the-scenes because you grammar Nazis keep hurting their feelings they wish to deliver to you, the lovely readers, the best content available.

Ever since the season ended, we've noticed a lot of new members joining the site and posting. While I'm not "officially" part of the staff, I am, however, able to speak on behalf of them. So on behalf of the entire staff of Bright Side of the Sun, I'd like to extend all of you new folks a HUGE e-hug welcome and also give the BSotS veterans mad props both for sticking with us over the years and helping to make this hellish season a little more enjoyable for everyone.

Now, I'll let the Ghost of Bright Side's past take over for a bit. Leiland, aka the Artist Formerly Known as Eutychus, has this to say:

We thrive on news, commentary and civil conversation about the Phoenix Suns - in order to maintain the civility and an environment conducive to healthy conversation, we have established guidelines of how to participate. If you have not read these guidelines make sure you do, because we are tightening the screws on our comment moderation and will be swift to hand out warnings and bans for guideline-violators.

You heard the man. Both new members and BSotS veterans alike should take some time to review the community guidelines if you haven't already or if you just need to brush up on them a bit.

For our convenience, Leiland made this video about 2 years ago that breaks down the community guidelines. Check it out:


For those who can't view the video, check out the original manuscript here:

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Again... we hope you enjoy your stay here at Bright Side of the Sun, everyone! Now please play nice.

Archie Goodwin and the Suns came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter and never looked back as Phoenix advanced to the semifinals of the Las Vegas Summer League with a 103-98 victory over...

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The Phoenix Suns summer squad was efficient today. And three players were out of this world. Combined stats: 21-27 from the field, 5-6 on threes, 12-16 on free throws. That's 59 points on just 27 shots for Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Archie Goodwin combined.

"There's nothing about Goodwin I don't like," former head coach and current NBATV analyst Sam Mitchell said in the third quarter.

Archie Goodwin was all over the court, looking so fluid and natural that you could tell the game comes totally easy to him. At 18, he's a boy among men who won't even be able to drink when/if he plays his THIRD Summer League season. But in terms of talent he's head and shoulders above anyone else on that court today.

And this is without Goodwin really knowing how to play basketball yet. He is just playing instinctively, moving without the ball, defending his man and running out on the break with ease.

Goodwin started strong and stayed strong, collecting fouls on the opponent's big men to the point that early in the third quarter the ultra-aggressive Quincy Acy stepped away to let Goodwin score easily on yet another drive to the hoop.

Goodwin had 19 points (5-5 shooting, 2-2 on threes), 2 blocks, 2 rebounds and an assist before the end of the third. He played in the fourth, but didn't contribute much (1 point, 1 rebound) as the Suns stopped running very much while they waited out the rest of the game. Goodwin is clearly better in the open court, where he can use his speed and quicks.

It helps that he was surrounded by four NBA rotation players most of the time (Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Kendall Marshall, P.J. Tucker), but even among those guys he was the most talented guy out there.

The Morrii had good offensive games and the most encouraging development was their efficiency, taking only good shots within the offense and nearly always within 15 feet of the basket. Both went 8-11 from the floor, getting 39 points between them on just 22 shots. After last year's wild 30% shooting in Vegas for Markieff, this is a welcome development that harkens back to Morris' college days where he made a high percentage of his shots. Hopefully gone are the days of free shots from 22 feet out (hint: they are free because the defense WANTS you to shoot those).

P.J. Tucker was P.J. Tucker. The heart and soul of this team.

The best non-roster Suns player of the game was shooting guard Dionte Christmas. TWICE, Christmas drew the foul on a three-pointer that he made. Rarely is a guy fouled behind the three-point line, and almost never does the shot go in. Christmas did that twice because he caught-and-shot the ball on the run with a chasing defender who ended up running into him. That's skill. Christmas doesn't need to gather - he just needs to stop on a dime and put it up.

The Suns could really use more shooting, but with Shannon Brown under contract already behind the rotation of Bledsoe, Dragic, Marshall, Goodwin and (maybe) Garrett, there will be little room for another shooter unless it's a bench-warming spot only. Still, he might get a camp invite.

One guy who had a really forgettable, like "let's burn that tape", game was Kendall Marshall. He repeatedly made ill-advised passes in the open court and half court, and got his pocket picked a few times while dribbling at mid-court which all turned into a lot of Raptor points. Not sure what was on Kendall's mind today, but it wasn't this game. His final line was 6 points, 2 assists and 5 turnovers. Ouch.

"He may play his way into the D-League if he doesn't pick up his play," Vincent said of Marshall at the end of the game. He suggested 35-40 D-League games would be better for Marshall than sitting on the Suns bench watching Bledsoe, Goodwin and Dragic play ahead of him.

For the Raptors, their best players of the night were Quincy Acy and Dwight Byucks, who scored 56 of the Raptors 98 points and were the only players in double figures. Byucks just signed a contract to come to training camp, and Acy is a fringe NBA player. Both were on fire all game, keeping the Raptors within striking distance. They even pulled within five points with a few seconds left while the Suns were sleep-walking.

But the Suns still won the game, if not in a cake walk. Jake Cohen had ice in his veins, making 6 free throws in the final minute to hold the lead for the Suns.

The Raptors best summer league players before today were big 21 year old center Jonas Valanciunas, who sat out with a sprained finger, and Terrence Ross, who was limited due to a 'who the hell is Archie Goodwin?' sprain. Jonas V was their #5 overall pick in 2011 and Terrence Ross was the #8 pick in 2012. Toronto traded their 2013 pick to Houston for Kyle Lowry, who traded it to OKC (in part) for James Harden. Terrence played but made no impact on the game, finishing with 9 points and 4 rebounds before fouling out early.

UPDATE:

Post-game audio from Archie Goodwin

Post-game audio from Coach Hornacek

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