Sticks and the Suns got the best of Bones and the Nuggets on Thursday in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Jalen “Sticks” Smith led all players with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Phoenix continued Denver’s search for its first Summer League win with a 90-84 victory.
Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland put the Nuggets up by two with a deep 3-pointer just before the second-quarter buzzer and hit a few more from distance in the second half, finishing with 15 points.
“He was really good, and I probably need to put the ball in his hands a little bit more,” Charles Klask, the Nuggets’ Summer League coach, said.
Even though Hyland, Denver’s only draft pick this year, didn’t play in the first game, Denver’s 0-3 record doesn’t sit right.
“I don’t care if it’s Summer League, if it’s rec ball, it bothers me a lot,” Hyland said.
“I feel as though I put everything on me, on myself and what I could have done better.”
Bol Bol led the Nuggets with 18 points, while Davon Reed and Caleb Agada added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“His overall engagement level is the highest I’ve ever seen it,” Klask said of Bol. “You talk to him in the huddles. You ask him questions. He wants feedback. He’s logging what’s going on in the game and how he’s being played. I think it just shows an overall commitment to what he’s put into these three games.”
The close defeat was a step in the right direction for Denver, which started the 10-day tournament with a skeleton roster due to health and safety protocols and lost both of its previous games by double digits. The Nuggets and Suns were tied after three quarters Thursday, but Phoenix got hot and used 26 second-chance points to keep Denver winless.
“I feel as though we did some great things tonight,” Hyland said. “We came together as a team collectively. We almost had it, but we couldn’t pull it out.”
The Nuggets play against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, the fourth of five Summer League games.