PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – It was Fan Appreciation Night at the Prescott Valley Event Center Friday, and the Northern Arizona Suns treated those in attendance with great basketball.
Josh Gray achieved his third career triple-double and second of the season with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting, 13 rebounds, 13 assists and five steals in the NAZ Suns’ 125-114 win over the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
The Suns matched the most wins in franchise history, improving to 22-27, while Sioux Falls fell to 25-24, now officially eliminated from playoff contention courtesy of Reno’s win over Salt Lake City tonight.
Gray put together the third triple-double in team history (all by him) in the last three quarters, going scoreless in the first. He had seven points and five assists in the second quarter, six points and three assists in the third quarter, and nine points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals in the fourth quarter as NAZ outscored Sioux Falls 26-16. The 13 rebounds tied a career-high (Nov. 27, 2016 vs. Sioux Falls, his first career triple-double) and he came an assist away from tying his career-high of 14, also against Sioux Falls on Dec. 29, 2017.
In six career games against the Skyforce, Gray has averaged 18.5 points on 49.5 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 3.5 steals.
The Suns were actually down big to start this one, struggling to contain Sioux Falls’ Kadeem Jack. Jack scored 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first quarter, boosting the Skyforce to a 40-27 lead after the opening frame. That lead would grow to 16 in the second quarter. Down 13 with just under five minutes to go in the second, Northern Arizona went on a 23-9 run to snag a one-point lead going into the break.
It was a true back-and-forth affair with neither team taking more than a six-point lead until 1:51 to go in the game. Down one with 5:48 to go, the Suns would close the game on a 14-2 run, forcing Sioux Falls to go scoreless for almost four minutes of game time.
The Suns forced a season-high 28 turnovers (tying Rio Grande Valley’s 28 on Nov. 14), scoring 37 points off of the Skyforce miscues. Northern Arizona had 20 steals tonight, mainly thanks to Archie Goodwin, who tied the team-record with seven steals.
NAZ and Sioux Falls entered the night making (and attempting) the most three-pointers in the league, but surprisingly the Suns made just nine from beyond the arc. They got it done inside, scoring a season-high 84 points in the paint, improving to 14-2 on the year when shooting 50 percent or better from the field (53-of-102, .520).
Goodwin led the Suns with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, as the best shooting guard in the NBA G league continued his high efficiency, also adding four assists and those seven steals.
Danuel House returned from missing one game due to injury to lead the bench with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, earning a +25 tonight, the highest plus-minus mark on the team. Phoenix Suns’ assignee Alan Williams tallied season-highs with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. Xavier Silas made three three-pointers and scored 13 points, while Alec Peters recorded nine points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Eric Stuteville reached double-digit scoring for the first time since Feb. 6 with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and five rebounds off the bench.
Jack led the Skyforce with 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting, 10 rebounds and two blocks. It marked his 10th double-double on the season.
The entire Sioux Falls’ starting lineup scored in double-figures; Alonzo Gee with 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting, Ike Nwamu with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from distance, Bubu Palo with 13 points and Derrick Walton Jr. with 12 points and 10 assists, his seventh double-double on the year.
Tony Mitchell added 15 points off the bench.
These two teams will meet again tomorrow to wrap up the 2017-18 season, as tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT. The Suns are hosting Salute to Heroes Night with pregame activities starting at 2 p.m. Northern Arizona will don specialty camouflaged uniforms that will be auctioned off postgame, with all proceeds going to the Prescott Valley Police Foundation.