NAZ Rodeo Clowns (Suns) win 3rd straight on wild Western Night
NBA G League
PRESCOTT VALLEY — Yeeeeee-haaaaaw!
For one evening only on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Findlay Toyota Center, the Northern Arizona Suns renamed themselves the Northern Arizona Rodeo Clowns in celebration of the quad-city area’s cowboy heritage.
And on Western Night, in front of 2,063 fans, the change suited the NAZ Suns rather well — complete with their bright and colorful orange-and-white striped uniforms and blue denim-colored shorts.
Retin Obasohan’s lay-in with 6 seconds left in regulation regained the lead for NAZ and the Rodeo Clowns held on for a thrilling 117-116 win for their season-best third straight victory in NBA G League play.
“It was just a special one,” Obasohan said of the win. “It’s been a while since we won at home. Texas is a great team. They came in here and made it tough on us.”
Seven Rodeo Clowns scored in double figures, led by Peter Jok’s 24 points (4 for 9 from 3-point range). Daxter Miles Jr. came off the bench with 17 points and four assists. Hollis Thompson added 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists before fouling out.
NAZ shot 55 percent from the field (46 of 83) and 14 of 31 from beyond the arc (45 percent). The Legends went 16 of 33 from 3-point land, but struggled mightily at the free-throw line, going 22 of 39 — and it cost them.
Justin Dentmon scored a Texas-best 27 points, netting 6 of 11 threes, and center Ray Spalding notched a double-double of 23 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, three steals and 3-1/2 blocks.
NAZ garnered its second win at home in 12 tries, which ended an eight-game skid at Findlay Toyota Center, and the hosts notched their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 11-25, 2018.
The Suns, er, Rodeo Clowns, improved their record to 6-24 at the season’s midway point, while the Legends dropped to 9-20. The two teams own the two worst records in the G League’s Western Conference.
“We’ve had a rough year, so far, and about five games ago we got together and said, ‘We’re going to finish the next 25 strong and play together — no matter what happens,’” Jok said.
Texas had come off of an eight-game losing streak — its worst in nearly five years — on Jan. 16, when it beat the Westchester Knicks at home. On Saturday, the Legends lost their 10th consecutive road game (2-15).
On Jan. 12, NAZ snapped a franchise-worst 14-game losing streak with a win at the Maine Red Claws in Portland, Maine. They haven’t lost since.
“For what we’ve been through this year, that they’re still together — and they’ve stuck together — and the crowd tonight, the enthusiasm and the energy … this is what we envisioned coming into it [season],” NAZ coach Bret Burchard said.
NAZ guard Daniel Dixon, who’s made 10 starts this season in his second year in the league, remained out of the lineup with a nagging left foot injury Saturday. Dixon has missed nine straight games, and he hasn’t played since Dec. 21 at the G League Showcase in Las Vegas.
NAZ returns to the hardwood at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, when it plays host to the Salt Lake City Stars (13-13 record going into Saturday) for the team’s annual Kids’ Day Game.
The Legends head back to Texas for a three-game home stand. They play host to the Iowa Wolves (9-19 going into Saturday) at 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21.
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.