Ayton, Suns take down the Raptors

Deandre Ayton.

July 29, 2020

Simba French

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The scrimmages are over for Bahamians Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton as their focus shifts to the National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season restart which gets underway this coming Thursday.

Ayton and the Phoenix Suns wrapped up their scrimmage games yesterday against the reigning NBA Champions the Toronto Raptors. Hield and the Sacramento Kings finished their games on Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The seven-foot center and the Suns were victorious over the Raptors with a final score of 117-106. This was their second win in their three-game scrimmage series.

The big man had a very quiet game as Head Coach Monty Williams had his team playing around the perimeter more. Ayton finished with seven points and six rebounds. The Suns attempted 47 three-pointers and connected on 18 of them as they appeared to work on their shooting on Tuesday. They were led by small forward Mikal Bridges who was on fire, shooting 10-for-12 from the field to finish with a game-high 26 points. He also went 4-for-5 from deep.

The Suns led the entire first half, including a 35-29 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Ayton finally got on the scoreboard with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter after he tipped in a Devin Booker missed floater. He was also fouled on the putback and completed the and-one play to put his team up 23-16.

Twenty seconds later, on the Suns’ next offensive possession, Ayton dribbled from the top of the perimeter and drove into the paint to make a finger roll. His team went up 25-18.

The second-year player played 27 minutes, going 3-for-8 from the field to shoot 37.5 percent, battling the Raptors’ Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.

Ayton’s final points of the night came in the third quarter when he made a backdoor cut to the basket for a slam dunk with 5:41 remaining in that period. His team was up 85-76 at that point. With 3:48 remaining, Cameron Payne came into the game for Ayton who was done for the afternoon. He cheered for his team from the sidelines the rest of the way.

In the third quarter, the Suns led by as many as 19 points.

Pascal Siakham led the way for the Raptors with 17 points.

The Suns won their first scrimmage game on Thursday night, 101-88, over the Utah Jazz. The Bahamian had 13 points and eight rebounds in this contest. On Sunday, Ayton and the Suns squared up against a talented Boston Celtics squad. The Celtics got the better of them with a 117-103 scoreline. Ayton finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in that game.

Hield and his Kings wrapped up their play on Monday afternoon with a 106-102 victory over their Pacific Division foe, the Clippers. The Kings came from being down by as much as 21 points in the second half to win.

The 2016 sixth overall draft pick in the NBA caught fire in the second half when he scored 13 of his 17 points. It was also his third straight game coming off the bench. Hield shot 7-for-16 from the field including 3-for-10 from three-point territory. He pulled eight rebounds in 27 minutes of play. This was the only game he did not lead his team in scoring in the three scrimmage games.

In their first scrimmage game, the Kings fell to the Miami Heat, 104-98, on Wednesday night. The 2020 NBA Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest Champion finished with 19 points and five rebounds in that game. On Saturday, the Kings lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 131-123. Hield had 19 points again and added two rebounds.

The Bahamians will officially restart their 2019-2020 NBA season this coming Friday. Ayton will be the first one in action at 4 p.m. when he helps his team against the Washington Wizards. Hield and the Kings will get the ball rolling at 8 p.m. against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Kings sit tied for 10th in the Western Conference of the NBA with a 28-36 win/loss record – three and a half games behind the 32-33 Memphis Grizzlies who occupy the eighth and final spot in the west. Sitting six games behind the Grizzles at 26-29 are the Suns.

The Kings and the Suns were two of 22 teams chosen for the NBA restart after the regular season was stopped back on March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the teams are housed at a single-site complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, under strict COVID-19 preventative conditions and protocols.

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