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NAZ Suns Drop Close One In Their Showcase Opener

19 January 2017  
Photos by Matt Hinshaw

Johnny O’Bryant finished with 27 points and 9 rebounds, but Suns lose to Blue 103-98

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – The Northern Arizona Suns played in two tightly contested games earlier this season against the Oklahoma City Blue, with both teams splitting the pair. This one was no different in each team’s first game at the NBA Development League Showcase in Mississauga, Ontario, but it was the Blue who came out on top 103-98.

There were 13 lead changes and the game was tied nine times in a battle between two Western Conference teams at the Hershey Centre. The Suns (12-11) even had the lead with less than 1:30 to go in the game, but they came up empty handed in their last few possessions against the league’s second-best defense.

Johnny O’Bryant earned his third consecutive game scoring at least 20 points, and had that feat accomplished alone in the first half, entering the break with an even 20. He led all scorers with 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, adding nine rebounds and three steals to his total.

The man he was matched up against, Dakari Johnson, recorded 20 points and eight rebounds. Semaj Christon led the way for the Blue (17-9) with 22 points, thanks to his 12-of-13 clip from the free throw line, and eight assists.

Trailing 98-97 with 1:28 left in the game, Christon scored the game’s next six points and earned the biggest steal of the game in a three-point affair with just 4.6 seconds remaining.

The Suns shot a season-best 13-of-14 (.929) from the free throw line, but they were only able to get to the charity stripe half as often as Oklahoma City, who finished 23-of-28 (.821) there.

Northern Arizona’s Askia Booker tallied 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, three assists and four rebounds, while Elijah Millsap fell a rebound shy of earning another double-double, finishing the night with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, nine boards and three assists.

Derrick Jones Jr. (12) and Shaquille Harrison (10) rounded out the Suns in double figures.

Kaleb Tarczewski led the Blue bench with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds.

The Suns get a day off in Mississauga, but will be right back in the Hershey Centre for their first matchup of the season with the Austin Spurs. The game will be televised on ESPNU at 4 p.m. MT. The Blue is playing a back-to-back set, as OKC will take on the Santa Cruz Warriors at 6:30 p.m. MT Thursday.