SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The two Phoenix Suns made their mark on the contest, and the Northern Arizona Suns kept fighting throughout Thursday night’s game, but the Salt Lake City Stars used a big run at the end to win it 109-97.
The Suns (3-15) trailed the Stars (8-8) for most of the contest at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, home of the Utah Jazz, falling behind 16-2 just over three minutes into the game. The Suns would trail by as many as 16 points in the first quarter. NAZ battled back as they did all night though. Down 37-21 in the second frame, the Suns got within three thanks to a 15-2 run, boosted by newcomer Trayvon Palmer, who scored 10 points in the run in just his second game with the team.
The Suns came out firing in the third quarter to get within a point early, but the Stars found their groove again, extending it to a double-digit lead. A 15-4 spurt by the Suns gave them their first lead of the game at 84-83 with 11:02 left in the game. In a back-and-forth affair the rest of the game, neither team would lead by more than six until there was less than a minute left. The Stars ended the game on an 11-3 run.
George King powered the Suns with 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks, two days after making his NBA debut with the Phoenix Suns. This was King’s first start with the NAZ Suns since Nov. 20 as he scored his fourth 20+ point game of the season.
Phoenix Suns assignee Elie Okobo notched his third straight 20+ point game with 22 points, five assists and four rebounds. Over four games across two assignments with the NAZ Suns, Okobo has averaged 20.8 points, 7.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds.
Palmer led the bench with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, to go with seven rebounds, while Aaron Epps recorded his first double-double since Nov. 13 with 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 12 rebounds.
The Stars were led by Georges Niang and his 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including a 6-of-10 mark from downtown, to go with four rebounds. Tyler Cavanaugh was also impressive from three-point range, making 5-of-7 of his 7-of-15 total clip for 20 points, adding seven rebounds. Grayson Allen tallied 13 points, five rebounds and four assists, Shonn Miller had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, with Willie Reed just missing out on a double-double of his own, adding 11 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
The Suns head home for one more game before the 2018 MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase. Northern Arizona hosts the Memphis Hustle on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT. The Stars will conclude a three-game homestand against the Stockton Kings on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT.