Suns pass Bucks to close out preseason

By Thoden K. Janes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

No Glenn Robinson. No Kevin Johnson. No Dan Majerle. No A.C. Green. And only a glimpse of Charles Barkley.

That's what the sellout crowd of 14,237 at McKale Center was able to see during the Phoenix Suns' 99-91 exhibition game win over the Milwaukee Bucks yesterday afternoon.

For the better part of the contest, Phoenix fielded players such as Wayman Tisdale, Aaron Swinson, Danny Schayes, Wesley Person and Danny Manning all of whom hadn't even imagined being a Sun this time last year.

Bucks coach Mike Dunleavy and Phoenix coach Paul Westphal really had no choice, though. Robinson, the sensational ex-Purdue forward who Milwaukee selected with the top pick in the 1994 draft, remains unsigned and has not seen any action during the preseason.

Johnson and Majerle, who both watched the game from the bench in street clothes, and veteran forward Green, all remain day-to-day with various injuries.

And Barkley, who scored four points and had only one rebound through the first two quarters, was in jeans and an untucked baby blue button-down by halftime, citing an abdominal strain as the reason for his early exit.

But the Suns did just fine with the motley crew of a team they had to work with yet again. In fact, Phoenix finished the preseason with a flawless 8-0 record, making them the most talked about team going into the 1994-95 season.

"It's real nice to be 8-0," Phoenix head coach Paul Westphal said, "but we've got a lot of work to still do. The preseason is over and the regular season hasn't started, so everybody is 0-0 now."

Maybe so, but the Suns who open up their regular season Friday night with a road game against Sacramento already seem as

though they are tagged to be 70 game winners. A tough rap, considering they haven't played one official NBA second yet.

"We can't worry about 70 wins, we have got to win one first," said Manning, who signed a one-year contract with Phoenix worth $1 million. "The league is so competitive and there's so much parity now. In terms of wins and losses yeah, it's nice to be 8-0, but I think we've got things to work on yet."

In the game, which featured several amazing dunks courtesy of Bucks' rookie Aaron Williams (a 1994 graduate of Xavier) and some madcap antics of the back-flipping, slam-dunking Suns Gorilla, the Bucks were able to keep it close well into the fourth quarter.

With 9:40 left in the game, Williams threw down a two-handed tomahawk slam that brought Milwaukee to within 72-70. But six-foot Elliot Perry, a second-year guard trying to make it as Phoenix's backup to Johnson, slashed to the hoop on a coast-to-coast reverse layup to put the Suns back up by four.

And then just two and a half minutes later, Perry made a steal and taking the ball down for an uncontested dunk to put the Suns up by eight with 5:48 to play.

Milwaukee got within three with just under four minutes left, but Manning connected on a one-handed jam off an alley-oop pass from Ainge to seal Phoenix's perfect preseason.

"It was great," Ainge said after the game. "It was a real exciting game. I'm really seeing that the chemistry is good, and that guys are communicating well. There is a lot of excitement about this team, and rightfully so."

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