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Since the heady days of Steve Nash came to an end http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-billy-price-jersey , there have been few signs of joy from a dwindling fan base that watched the Phoenix Suns tumble to the bottom of the NBA standings and miss the playoffs for the eighth year in a row.

Then came the announcement that Deandre Ayton would go to the Suns with the first overall pick. A huge cheer went up from the several thousand fans at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Thursday night for the draft party. General manager Ryan McDonough, owner Robert Sarver and coach Igor Kokoskov came out of their meeting room to watch and bask in that rare moment of sheer joy from the fans.

”It was a pretty special moment for our franchise,” McDonough said.

Not only that, but McDonough engineered a last-minute trade for swingman Mikal Bridges of Villanova, the 10th pick. It was a spendy move because Philadelphia demanded and got Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick. But the Suns are weary of stockpiling assets. It’s time to cash in, they figured, and did it with that trade.

”We weighed the pros and cons of trading it heavily and carefully,” McDonough said. ”We were only going to put it in play if we had a chance to get a special player and that’s how we feel about McKell.”

All four of the Suns’ picks showed up on a crowded dais in Phoenix on Friday – Ayton, Bridges, French point guard Elie Okobo (chosen 31st) and forward George King of Colorado (the 59th selection).

The 7-foot-1 Ayton towered over the others, in a white unbuttoned collared shirt and a sharp blue suit, but he looked and sounded a bit weary from the whirlwind of being the No. 1 draft pick. His only sleep lately Authentic Thomas Vanek Jersey , he said, was a couple of hours on the plane ride from New York on Tuesday.

”I’m just excited to finally get a jersey on and be able to play five-on-five again,” Ayton said.

Ayton had been the frontrunner for the No. 1 pick ever since the draft lottery and any doubts were erased when he went through an individual workout with the Suns, the only team which he did so.

McDonough said that Ayton’s workout ”in and of itself was as impressive as I’ve ever seen in my 16 drafts in the NBA.”

Ayton is seen as strictly a center, so how does he fit in the modern style of the NBA, when center plays is diminished and players are essentially interchangeable, is a question. Ayton replied that he’s no ordinary center.

”I don’t like it when people think I’m just a guy down low,” he said. ”They haven’t watched me shoot the basketball.”

Ayton and Bridges say they got to know each other well at the college awards ceremony in Los Angeles but never figured they’d be on the same team.

”It’s like I’ve known him my whole life,” Bridges said.

Now comes the hard work, molding a team with Ayton, Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. A billboard of those three already has been erected downtown.

The Suns, so bad for so long Durham Smythe Color Rush Jersey , seem on the brink of being relevant.

”We’re very hungry,” Ayton said. ”I think the great team chemistry and the work ethic that we have, especially us guys coming in, we’re going to bring it to the next level. We’ve got young lets. We can run all day. … We can really start a winning legacy.”

And Ayton is the reason for the sudden leap in optimism, even though he won’t turn 20 until next month.

”I embrace it a lot,” he said of the expectations placed upon him. ”Through my career I’ve always had that on my shoulder, the expectations. I represent a whole nation (Bahamas) I just do that the best that I can and just help this community start over and be the best player I can possibly be. I just want to be the best great player.”

Kokoskov says Ayton possesses ”a unique talent for the decades.”

Ayton said he wants ”to be the best person on and off the court.”

Now the Suns move on to the next phase. Free agency starts July 1 and McDonough wants some veteran players to add to this very young core. He said the team should have $15 million to $20 million to spend.

”We were aggressive last night with the picks and the trade up to get Mikal,” McDonough said. ”We’re going to continue to be aggressive for the next couple of weeks in free agency. We’ve got some money to spend and we’re looking to spend it on the best players we can get.”

Matt Carpenter helped the St. Louis Cardinals beat two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in a way no one has before, then he stuck around to make some history of his own.

Carpenter homered twice, matched a career best with five hits and helped chase Kluber in the shortest start of the right-hander’s career in the Cardinals’ 11-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

Carpenter, who also scored a career-best five runs, is the 19th player ever with five hits http://www.bearsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-james-daniels-jersey , including two home runs, and five runs in a game. He’s the first Cardinals player to do it.

”I don’t know, that leaves me kind of speechless,” said Carpenter, who also drove in three. ”It’s pretty cool. Wow, there’s been some really good players come through here. You would have figured somebody would have put together a night better than that.”

Kluber (11-4) allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings and has lost two of his past three decisions. He gave up six hits, including homers to Carpenter and Jose Martinez, and walked one on 48 pitches.

Prior to Tuesday, Kluber’s shortest start had been two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. His previous low this year was a five-inning game on June 15 against Minnesota when he took his third loss of the season.

”He’s human,” manager Terry Francona said. ”Don’t think guys go 35 starts without having a bump in the road.”

It was a far cry from his only other appearance against the Cardinals. He struck out a career-best 18 in a 2-0 victory on May 13, 2015.

Carlos Martinez (4-4) settled down after a rough first inning for his first victory since May 2. He had lost three straight decisions over his previous five starts. He went six innings, allowing two runs Tracy Walker Color Rush Jersey , six hits and a walk while striking out eight.

St. Louis has won four straight after struggling through a 2-8 stretch. Cleveland entered the series on a seven-game winning streak before dropping the first two of this three-game set.

The Indians used three singles and a walk to take a 2-0 lead in the first but had only three more singles against Martinez and none after the starter was pulled.

Carpenter answered the Indians’ fast start with his 14th home run. It was Carpenter’s third leadoff homer of the year and 18th in his career. He also led off the eighth with his 15th homer, a solo shot, on a 5-for-5 night. The five hits matched a mark he set June 14, 2014 at Kansas City, and he was a triple shy of the cycle.

”I don’t think you wish for a home run not to be a home run, but it would have been cool to do,” he said of the cycle. ”It’s something I’ve never done, but I’ll take the home run, too.”

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny made several fielding changes in the late innings to let players get some rest. He said he considered pulling Carpenter but decided the potential cycle meant more than a couple of innings off.

”It was on our mind, but this is special for him and special for our fans,” Matheny said. ”When he’s on, it’s impressive to watch his approach and what he can do when he’s got his swing going right.”

Jose Martinez’s 12th home run Logan Woodside Color Rush Jersey , a three-run blast to left field, chased Kluber. Kolten Wong added a two-run shot in the third, his sixth of the season.

RAIN DELAY

Tuesday’s game was delayed 1-hour, 26-minutes by rain, marking the second consecutive game between the Indians and Cardinals that was affected by inclement weather. The first pitch Monday was pushed back 1-hour, 21-minutes because of a thunderstorm.

TRAINING ROOM

Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to throw 40 pitches off the mound Wednesday in St. Louis. If all goes well, he could begin his rehab assignment Saturday. Carrasco is currently on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow contusion.

Cardinals: SS Yairo Munoz was pulled after the third inning with a left ankle contusion. He fouled a ball off his leg during his last at-bat before grounding out to short and was replaced by Greg Garcia to start the fourth.

UP NEXT

Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (2-0, 2.45) makes his fourth start of his rookie season. After allowing 18 hits in his first two appearances, he gave up four but struck out nine and blanked the Tigers through seven innings in his last outing.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.50) is coming off his best start of his rookie year. He allowed a season-low one hit and tied a season-high with 13 strikeouts but didn’t figure in the decision in the 2-1 loss at Milwaukee. He’s given up two runs on six hits in his previous 18 1/3 innings over three games.

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