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The Phoenix Suns lost their preseason opener at home to a hot-shooting Adelaide 36ers team from Australia’s National Basketball League 134-124 on Sunday night.
The Suns, whose last game at Footprint Center was a 33-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, became the first team to lose a preseason game against a non-NBA team since the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 against Real Madrid. Current Mavs superstar Luka Doncic played on that Real Madrid team, scoring 3 points in his squad’s 142-137 overtime victory against OKC.
The 36ers — who normally play at the FIBA 3-point line, about 18 inches closer than the NBA’s — shot 24-of-43 from long distance. They were led by Craig Randall, who played briefly at the University of Memphis and then at Tennessee-Martin before a stop in the G League, and Robert Franks, who combined for 67 points and 15 triples between them.
Randall connected on 13 of 21 shots, including 9-of-17 from outside the arc, to lead all scorers with 35 points, and Franks (32 points) was 11-of-20 overall and 6-of-10 from 3-point range.
“Just didn’t give them the respect that they deserve as a pro team,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to learn.”
The Suns’ starters each played 22 minutes; Williams acknowledged they were all on a minutes restriction and ended up playing a bit longer than he intended.
“I actually got them a little higher than I wanted to — they got competitive, they wanted to come back, but I wasn’t going to let those guys come back,” Williams said.
The Suns, who had the best record in the NBA last season at 64-18, cut into the 36ers’ lead in the second half but couldn’t overtake the visitors as Randall scored 24 points after halftime.
The 36ers got off to a fast start behind 3-point shooting in the first half. Adelaide built the first-half lead to as many as 16 by hitting 10 of its first 17 3-pointers.
“I thought we didn’t do a good job of reading the game,” Williams said. “Once they made a few [3s] in the first quarter, I didn’t think we had awareness that these guys would keep making shots.”
The Suns were getting to the rim and dominating offensively with Bridges and Ayton. But trading baskets was not to Phoenix’s benefit. And Adelaide continued its 3-point shooting touch throughout the game, while the Suns were 9-of-34 from outside the arc.
The Adelaide 36ers finished seventh out of 10 teams in the NBL last season with a 10-18 record.
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.