PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – Like yesterday, the Northern Arizona Suns shot the ball extremely well, and like yesterday, the opposing team did too.
The Suns dropped their last game before the All-Star break 122-113 against the Agua Caliente Clippers on Saturday night at the Findlay Toyota Center. The Clippers won the season-series 3-1 against the Suns, snapping a three-game overall losing streak to improve to 17-17. The Suns dropped their sixth straight game, falling to 8-26.
The Suns shot off the charts from inside the arc, making 67.3 percent from two-point range tonight. Their outside mark of 8-of-27 (.296) brought them down, but they finished with a high shooting percentage at .544 (43-of-79). In the last two games, the Suns combined to shoot 85-of-159 (.535). The Clippers also shot at a high clip, finishing 49-of-95 (.516) from the field. They couldn’t get much going from distance either (8-of-26 at .308), shooting 59.4 percent inside the arc.
The Suns jumped out to a 23-16 lead before finishing the first quarter ahead 32-30, making 13-of-22 (.591) in the frame. Aaron Epps, making his third straight start, scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the quarter. ACC’s James Palmer Jr. responded with 11 points of his own in the second quarter, knotting the game at 60 at halftime. In the first half, each team shot 23-of-47 (.489), had the same number of points in the paint (26) and the same number of fast break points (seven).
The third quarter was all Clippers, even though the Suns outshot them, making 10-of-16 (.625) from the field. The Suns turned it over eight times in the frame and were outrebounded 13-5, with ACC getting 10 more shot attempts (16-of-26 at .615). ACC led 98-87 entering the fourth. The Suns again made 10-of-16 shots in the final frame, but seven turnovers stalled their comeback efforts, as they would get no closer than five points in the closing minutes.
The Clippers outrebounded the Suns 45-37, outscored them in the paint 70-56, and forced 22 turnovers compared to 14 giveaways.
Tariq Owens scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, to go with five rebounds. He bested his previous high of 18 points at the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Jan. 3. Ike Nwamu also scored 22 points (6-12 FG, 5-5 FT). This was his seventh 20+ point game off the bench in just his 12th game for the Suns. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, he has the tied second most 20+ point games off the bench in a player’s first 12 games with a team in NBA G League history, only behind Kalin Lucas’ nine such games last year with Stockton.
Jalen Lecque tallied 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and four rebounds. Epps finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Matt Farrell earned his second start with the Suns and dished a season-high nine assists, adding 12 points (5-8 FG, 2-4 3PT) and five rebounds. ShawnDre Jones had 13 points (5-8 FG) and Trayvon Palmer secured 10 rebounds without scoring, adding four assists.
Palmer led the Clippers with 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting, to go with five rebounds and three assists. J.J. Avila had a monster double-double with 27 points on 12-of-19 shooting, 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Xavier Rathan-Mayes also had a double-double with 13 points, 10 assists and three steals. Desi Rodriguez led the bench with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, adding four rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
The Suns have more than a week off. They’ll begin a three-game road trip fresh off the All-Star break at Canton on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m. MT. The Clippers host the Memphis Hustle on Tuesday at 12 p.m. MT.