Even though the Phoenix Suns lost their season opener 113-94 to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, there were some bright spots.
That included the play of rookies Tyler Ulis, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. That trio helped the Suns go on a 20-4 run in the second half that closed their team’s deficit to 10 points.
Suns Coach Earl Watson said the rookies earned themselves more minutes when the team faces Oklahoma City on Friday. ArizonaSports.com reported that Ulis and Bender will replace Leandro Barbosa and P.J. Tucker in the team’s second unit along with Chriss, Brandon Knight and Alex Len.
“To me, they played with the most heart,” Watson said, according to a report on the team’s website. “Heart gets rewarded … We need that energy. We need those steals, deflections and we need that purpose.”
Ulis, the point guard from the University of Kentucky, made his mark on defense. He finished with two points, one rebound, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in 14 minutes.
“We have very, very high belief in their abilities,” Watson said. “But the fact that they came out and played both ends of the court, to me that was most impressive. I’m not surprised though.”
According to the Suns’ report, “Ulis pestered whoever he guarded with quick feet and even quicker hands. He even forced Kings guard Garrett Temple into traveling by aggressively pressuring him in the backcourt.”
“I just tried to come in and change the game as much as possible,” Ulis said. “I knew they wanted us to get into guys defensively so I tried to pressure the ball, get steals and make things happen in transition.
“I’m getting a chance. I’m getting a shot. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, so when you go into the game, you have to play like it’s 0-0.”