PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Grinch may have stolen Christmas, but it was Jawun Evans playing that role Saturday night, as he set a new team record with eight steals against the Stockton Kings at the Prescott Valley Event Center in the Northern Arizona Suns’ Christmas Game.
The Kings (6-5) held off the Suns (3-13) long enough, winning the second game between these two teams, 90-84. NAZ Suns head coach Bret Burchard faced his old colleague and the first NAZ Suns head coach in team history, Ty Ellis, who made his first trip back to Prescott Valley now at the helm of the Kings.
However, it was the Evans’ show for most of the night, a day after getting called up by the Phoenix Suns to a Two-Way deal. The point guard tallied 20 points, eight assists, eight steals, six rebounds and two blocks. His eight steals broke the team’s previous record of seven, accomplished four times before; Archie Goodwin, Josh Gray (twice) and Shaquille Harrison. This was Evans’ sixth 20+ point game of the season, a mark that leads the team.
Defense was the name of this game with 20 combined steals and 50 forced turnovers on the night. The Suns made 30-of-82 (.366) from the floor compared to Stockton’s 30-of-67 (.448) clip.
Neither team led by more than five in the first quarter, a preview of what was to come the whole night. The largest lead of the game was 10, held by Stockton in the second quarter. The Kings held a slim advantage the entire second half until NAZ took the lead 66-65 with 8:55 left in the game thanks to an 11-0 run. They didn’t fall behind until there was 2:16 left, as the Kings’ leading scorer Kalin Lucas drove through for a layup. Daniel Dixon made it a one-point game with a pullup with 1:26 left, but again, Lucas drove through for a layup to put the Kings’ lead back at three. He would go 4-of-4 from the stripe the rest of the way to ice it.
Lucas finished with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting, plus a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line, also adding five rebounds and four assists. Matt Jones notched 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 from downtown, while Cameron Reynolds (14 points, five rebounds), Wenyen Gabriel (11 points, seven assists) and Cody Demps (10 points, five rebounds) also reached double figures.
Dixon recorded 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds. LaQuinton Ross led the Suns’ bench with nine points and five rebounds.
The Suns will stay home to take on the Capital City Go-Go, the brand new Washington Wizards’ affiliate, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. MT. Stockton will head home for a short stint, where they’ll host the Erie BayHawks on Monday at 8 p.m. MT.