Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton (22) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Adelaide 36ers Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#THE Phoenix Suns opened their 2022-23 NBA preseason on the wrong end of a shocking result to a non-NBA opponent.
#Deandre Ayton finished with 22 points and six rebounds but the Sun suffered a 134-124 loss to the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian National Basketball League, Sunday night at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
#Ayton shot 11-14 from the field in just over 22 minutes.
#It’s the first time an NBA team lost an international exhibition game since 2016 and the first time within the last 10 years. It was also the first time an NBA team has lost to a NBL team.
#“It’s just preseason,” Ayton said. “We’re still learning at the end of the day. It’s unacceptable but at the same time we’re just getting back and we’re trying to polish up some things to get ourselves better.”
#The Suns were favoured by approximately 30 points.
#Ayton discussed his approach to the preseason opener.
#“Just getting in the mix, getting the looks you’re comfortable with, getting to your spots, I’m just learning. Being patient, I’m still a little shaky on this being patient,” Ayton said. “They threw some doubles at me where I didn’t expect to be doubled so early but it’s cool to learn everything like knowing where the help side is coming from. I’m usually just quick to go into my moves, especially when my back is turned for spin moves. Still have the little guards coming in and taking the ball from me, I just have to be patient, ball fake, tell guys to cut through and just go to work after that.”
#The Suns finished with an NBA best and new franchise record of 64-18. The no.1 overall seed in the Western Conference, they were upset in the second round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.
#Despite the setback, Ayton said the focus of the roster remains the same, the chase of the franchise’s first NBA title.
#The Suns return four of five starters from the past two seasons and that starting lineup had an efficiency rating of +11 in their 22 minutes on the floor.
#The 36ers led by as much as 16 points before the Sun trimmed the deficit to a one possession game with just under six minutes left to go in the fourth quarter.
#“We have been playing with each other for a while, we just started picking up our pace, doing everything with intent, being a little bit more accountable in a way but [in these exhibition games] we only have so much time. The ball started to move a lot more,” Ayton said when asked about the difference between the two halves. “We were finishing shots in the open corner and when we got that ball moving it’s hard to stop our offence.”
#The Suns continue the preseason when they travel to California to face the Los Angeles Lakers on October 5.
#Phoenix will open the regular season at home against the Dallas Mavericks on October 19.
#In his fourth season, Ayton averaged 17.2 points on a career high 63 percent from the field and 10.2 rebounds per game in 58 appearances.
#After signing a new four-year $133 million contract this offseason to remain with the Suns, Ayton said he looks to improve and take his game to new levels this season.
#“Just trying to be aggressive and do some of the things I’ve been working on in the offseason,” Ayton said.
#“Just to see where I’m at, getting to the rim and finding spots where I’m comfortable at on the floor. And just being available for my teammates when they’re ready to make quick decisions.”