Bennett’s game-high 25 points extends NAZ Suns' slide to 11 straight
NBA G League
ONTARIO, Calif. — Anthony Bennett made sure that the Northern Arizona Suns’ lingering losing streak remained intact for at least another four days.
An NAZ Sun for part of the 2017-18 season, the Agua Caliente Clippers’ Bennett turned the tables on his former team on Wednesday, Jan. 2, scoring a game-high 25 points on the strength of five 3-pointers to extend the Suns’ slide to 11 in a row.
With their 110-93 setback, the Suns have now lost a franchise-worst 11 consecutive games. If NAZ suffers six more losses, the Suns would match the NBA G League’s longest losing streak record of 17, which has happened twice before, in 2016 and 2017.
At Citizens Business Bank Arena, the NAZ Suns’ record dipped to a league-worst 3-21, and they haven’t won a game since Dec. 1. Agua Caliente improved to 11-9.
The Suns, who were down by as many as 26 points on Wednesday, shot a paltry 24 percent from the field (12 for 49) in the first half and trailed 56-37 at halftime. Agua Caliente outscored NAZ, 34-20, in a tide-turning second quarter. The Suns ended the contest a lackluster 37 percent from the field (33 of 90), including 9 of 33 from 3-point range (27 percent). And they were outrebounded by a whopping 55-38.
In the second half, with less than 3 minutes left in the third quarter, the Clippers led 80-54 after converting back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers. However, NAZ closed out the frame with gusto, piecing together a 14-0 run to cut the deficit to 12 points, 80-68.
With 8:51 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Clippers led 83-74. Bennett then went to work, drilling a 3-pointer at the 8-minute mark, and Manu LeComte drained another trey about a minute later to push the Agua Caliente edge back to double digits.
Suns forward Aaron Epps trimmed the deficit to seven on a put-back jam, 89-83, with 5:40 left. But two Suns misses and consecutive makes by the Clippers made it 93-82 Agua Caliente inside of 5 minutes to go.
Bennett netted three 3-pointers in the final 2-1/2 minutes to crush the Suns’ chances of getting off the schneid. He scored 14 points on 5 for 5 shooting in the fourth period alone.
For the Suns, five players scored in double figures, led by Hollis Thompson’s 19 points and four rebounds. Epps followed with 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block off the bench. Peter Jok added 15 points, five rebounds and two steals.
As for the Clippers, Bennett added nine rebounds, while five other Clippers registered double figures. Johnathan Motley (14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, two assists) and Angel Delgado (13 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks) each had a double-double. LeComte ended with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
For the third consecutive game on Wednesday, NAZ guard Daniel Dixon (left foot), who had started in 10 games, and forward Derek Cooke Jr. (personal reasons), who leads the team in double-doubles with six this season, didn’t suit up for the Suns.
The NAZ Suns play host to the Sioux Falls Skyforce (15-8 record) at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, at Prescott Valley Event Center. It will be their first home game since Dec. 16.
NAZ owns a 4-0 all-time record at home against Sioux Falls. The Suns will subsequently embark on a season-long four-game road trip to the Midwest and the East Coast, from Jan. 9-15.
Agua Caliente (10-9), in the midst of a four-game home stand, plays host to Western Conference co-leader Oklahoma City Blue (16-5) at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.