The Memphis Hustle entered tonight’s contest unblemished sitting at a perfect 8-0 on the season, and continued their run of dominance improving to 9-0 on the season despite a good fight from the NAZ Suns.
The Suns ultimately fell short, but fought tooth and nail throughout the night led by Ahmed Hill and Jared Harper. Memphis threw punch after punch and there were moments where they could’ve easily crumbled, but they kept absorbing the blows and making runs to get back within striking distance. “I’m proud of the way we fought, we didn’t roll over, that’s a really good team,” said coach Burchard after the loss.
Ahmed Hill was extremely impressive scoring a career-high 27 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and zero turnovers in a game where the Suns had 24 turnovers as a team. I asked him how he was able to play so aggressively while also taking care of the ball, “Just playing slow, taking what’s there, not forcing anything and making the right plays.”
Along with Hill, point guard Jared Harper really stood out totaling 31 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting from three point land. I asked what got him in his rhythm tonight and he said, “Getting to the foul line helped get me into my flow and in the 4th quarter got me going a little bit.”
Harper also had this nasty crossover on Josh Jackson to which he said (while smiling), “I was mad I missed the shot, I wish I took my time on it.”
Josh Jackson has been very productive in his time with Memphis’s G-League affiliate and looks to be ready for a promotion in the near future. In his return to Arizona he totaled 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists on 6-of-13 shooting from three.
I thought the Suns actually did a nice job containing him for the most part until he made three tough, contested 3’s in the 4th quarter. Their game-plan made him a bit uncomfortable at times, but he made some big shots down the stretch.
Final score: Suns 110- Hustle- 116
Lines of the night:
- SF-Ahmed Hill- 27 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 0 to, 4/9 3PFG.
- PG- Jared Harper- 31 pts, 6 ast, 4 reb, 1 stl, 4/7 3PFG.
- SG- Daxter Miles Jr.- 14 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl.
- F-Anthony Lawrence II- 11 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2/4 3PFG.
- F/C- Tariq Owens- 7 pts, 4 reb, 4 blk, 3/4 FG, 1/1 FT.
Team Shooting splits:
The first quarter had a really good pace to it, both teams were playing at a good tempo and the offense was flowing. Memphis threw a couple punches in the first half, but the Suns kept fighting back to remain within striking distance. Forward Ahmed Hill exploded for 20 first-half points. Hill and Jared Harper kept the team afloat combining for 34 of their 52 first-half points.
In the second half, the Hustle started pulling away in the 3rd quarter again, building a lead up to 12 points halfway through the period, but the Suns just kept fighting back and wouldn’t quit, matching them shot for shot throughout the 4th quarter until Memphis finally pulled away for good.
Jalen Lecque struggled offensively tonight and couldn’t seem to find his rhythm, getting into some foul trouble and only seeing 14 minutes of action. He made some nice defensive plays and rotations, but overall showed glimpses of why he’s considered to be one of the more raw prospects from last year’s draft class.
The Suns host this same Memphis team on Thursday night for their next game.