Millsap, Booker each score 35, but NAZ Suns fall in double OT
Northern Arizona nearly overcomes 31-point first-half deficit in LA
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Elijah Millsap and Askia Booker each scored a season-high 35 points, Derek Cooke Jr. added 19 points and 15 rebounds, but the Northern Arizona Suns fell 142-135 to Los Angeles in a double-overtime thriller late Wednesday night.
Booker was 14 of 30 from the field and dished out 10 assists for the Suns, which nearly overcame a 31-point first-half deficit on the road to a D-Fenders club that finished one win shy of an NBA D-League title last season.
“During the first half I challenged them to play our basketball. I said, ‘They are comfortable moving the ball from side to side, dunking the ball and joking on the court. At what point will we man up and stop pointing fingers, stop complaining to the refs and stop feeling sorry for ourselves,’” Northern Arizona head coach Tyrone Ellis said. “They decided to trust each other and play our style of basketball [after that].”
Los Angeles guard Vander Blue, a top NBA prospect who scored 25 points on 6 of 14 shooting, including an 11 of 17 mark from the free-throw line, said in a postgame interview on Facebook Live that Northern Arizona “never gave up.”
“Thats probably the hardest I’ve ever seen a D-League team play,” Blue said about the Suns.
Northern Arizona (3-1) trailed 37-23 after the first quarter, but outscored the D-Fenders 66-44 in the second half, including a quick transition bucket by Shaquille Harrison to tie it 117-117 with 2.3 seconds remaining in the game, forcing overtime.
Harrison finished with 12 points and five rebounds against the D-Fenders, which came into Wednesday night’s contest averaging 124.3 points per game.
After each club scored 18 points in a wild 180 seconds during the first overtime, Los Angeles (4-1) blanked the Suns 7-0 in overtime No. 2, including a 3-point dagger from the top of the key by Blue, putting his team up 140-135 with 23 seconds to go.
Other standouts for Northern Arizona included Johnny O’Bryant, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a relatively quiet night for the former LSU star. Josh Gray added 10 points and five assists, while rookie Michael Bryson scored six points on two 3-pointers.
For Los Angeles, 7-foot-1 center Ivica Zubac, a second-round draft pick by the parent club Lakers in 2016, scored 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.
David Nwaba chipped in with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the D-Fenders, which turned the ball over a season-high 28 times against the Suns.
Northern Arizona returns home for a two-game home stand beginning Friday, Nov. 25, with Reno (1-4) at the Prescott Valley Event Center. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
On Sunday, Nov. 27, the Suns welcome the defending D-League champion Sioux Skyforce (3-1) with an afternoon start time of 3 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.