LAS VEGAS – They say the house always wins in Las Vegas, and Wednesday night was no exception, as the road team Northern Arizona Suns lost their first game of their 2018 MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase set against the Windy City Bulls 99-87.
The Suns (3-17) jumped ahead of the Bulls (8-12) early at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, forcing eight turnovers in the opening frame to take a 22-18 lead. The Bulls pounced on the Suns in the second, forcing NAZ to score a season-low 13 points in the quarter. Windy City used a 26-6 run to end the first half after falling behind 29-20 to take a 46-35 lead into the locker room.
After a back-and-forth third quarter ended at 75-67, the Suns got within three points with 8:47 left, and got the deficit down to two points twice in the last four minutes, but they were never able to get over the hump and take the lead in the second half.
George King achieved his fifth 20+ point contest of the season with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting (4-7 3PT), to go with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Aaron Epps powered the Suns’ bench with 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, to go with two blocks. It was Epps’ fourth double-double on the year, the second most such games on the team.
Phoenix Suns’ assignee Elie Okobo had 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Hollis Thompson earned the start in his first game with NAZ, as he posted 10 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
Windy City was paced by Walter Lemon Jr., who had one of the Bulls’ two double-doubles with 20 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and four steals. CJ Fair had the other double-double with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, 10 rebounds, three steals and five blocks. Kaiser Gates led Windy City’s bench with 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
The Suns outrebounded the Bulls 52-47 and made four more three-pointers on the night, but the wide difference in free throws (22-of-29 for Windy City, 10-of-12 for Northern Arizona) and a Bulls’ 50-32 advantage in points in the paint were key.
The NAZ Suns will finish their 2018 MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase set against the Erie BayHawks on Friday at 3:30 p.m. MT. The Bulls will conclude their set on Friday against the Iowa Wolves at 7 p.m. MT.