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NAZ Suns Beat Defending Champion Skyforce
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28 November 2016  
Photo Courtesy: Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns

NAZ Suns Pick Up Another Win At Home

The Northern Arizona Suns took down the defending D-League Champion Sioux Falls Skyforce 98-89 on Sunday afternoon at the Prescott Valley Event Center pushing their record to 5-1 and remaining un-beaten at home so far this season.

We beat a really good team,” Ellis said following the victory. “Part of our emphasis was transition defense and pick and roll communication. I thought the guys did a phenomenal job.”
 
It was a close game through the first three quarters as the teams were only separated by four points or less including a tie at halftime. However, the Suns would open the fourth quarter outscoring the Skyforce 17-8 in the first few minutes highlighted by some arena-shaking dunks by Greg Mays and Derek Jones Jr. as the team kept their foot on the gas until the final buzzer sounded.

Four of the Suns five starters ended up in double digit points in the victory. Josh Gray lead the team with 24 points, Johnny O’Bryant added 20, Elijah Millsap picked up 16 and Derrick Jones Jr. finished with 15.

“It was a great win for us,” said O’Bryant. “We definitely thought they were a really great team so to win in the way we did, you know, I think it’s great for our confidence.”
 
The NAZ Suns picked up the win while missing Askia Booker who lead the team with 26 points in the win against Reno on Friday night but was on the sideline in street clothes dealing with an injury on Sunday.

Askia has a small injury,” Ellis said. “We are going to monitor it and hopefully he will be ready for Utah but if not, we’re deep.”
 
Filling the point guard slot on Sunday was Gray who picked up eleven assists to go along with his team-leading point total. It was a sight Ellis was pleased to see following the benching of Gray during the Reno contest for not passing during a fast break.

He grew that game as well and I told him why I did it,” Ellis said. “He has to be a point guard, not a point guard that can score.”
 
 “Josh Gray grew tonight, it was unbelievable,” Ellis continued.

As the first month of the season nears its conclusion, the Suns are learning who they are as a team and are confident in their first year of existence following a 5-1 start including a win over the defending champion Skyforce.

Those guys won a championship last year; they came in with a lot of swag,” Gray said. “We got out and punched them first, I don’t think they expected that, and it was a confidence booster for us. Now we know what type of team we are and we are going to keep the momentum going.”
 
The Suns (5-1) hit the road on Tuesday to close out the month against the Salt Lake City Stars before returning home to the Prescott Valley Event Center on Saturday, December 3rd, for a rematch against the Reno Bighorns. Both tip-offs are 7pm.

All Photos by Matt Hinshaw @ Hinshaw Photography unless noted otherwise.

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