LAS VEGAS - Like many weekend visitors in Las Vegas, the summer Suns had an embarrassing night Saturday that needs to stay here.
Being routed by the Memphis Grizzlies at any time with any roster is bad enough, but even the 97-60 score did not define Saturday's disappointment.
Four games into NBA Summer League play, the Suns have cause for concern with three players they want to contribute in real games.
In the Suns' first game, center Robin Lopez had 24 points and 16 rebounds but has regressed since. Point guard Goran Dragic took three games to find his offensive feel and showed no command of a listless team Saturday. Rookie Earl Clark has shown the skills that made him the 14th overall pick in this year's NBA draft but has not countered the rap on his intensity.
"It's a learning experience," Clark said after an eight-point, five-rebound game Saturday in which he made 4 of 12 shots. "I'm having fun playing with these guys. I'm coming along fine. I'm just doing what I can. I only can do what I can control. If I could go out and show it (his intensity), it'd be easier. Sometimes it's hard when you can't do things you really know you can do."
Clark impressed the staff with his work ethic this week, requesting extra work sessions.
"He has to find a way to have some intensity and play harder," Suns summer coach Dan Majerle said. "If there's not a fire there, he won't play. He'll figure that out. When he gets around the other guys, he better have a fire, or he'll get his (butt) kicked every day. He'll learn really quick what it takes to compete in this league. He has a lot of potential. I like Earl. He's going to be OK."
Clark has shown an ability to drive either way and pass well but has become comfortable with jump shots, another knock on him in college. Suns Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said Clark looked like a rookie Saturday but is earning his way by defending different positions.
"He's going to have to get more comfortable and find his niche," Griffin said. "Defensively, he's going to get on the court."
After a year in the NBA, Lopez and Dragic are expected to force the tempo. Lopez showed effort Monday but was outplayed Saturday by an unimpressive duo - Hasheem Thabeet and Hamed Haddadi. Lopez had one rebound in 14 first-half minutes and shot 0 for 4 in the game.
"Robin had one good game," Majerle said. "He can't be satisfied. He's got to continue to improve. He's got to do a better job on the weak side getting over there early. Not everything has to be a blocked shot. Offensively, he hasn't been very good, either."
Griffin said Lopez has returned to overthinking and lost his earlier focus.
"He had a ferocity in that first game that I haven't seen yet," said Griffin, also blaming the slow tempo Saturday on Dragic.
"It should have bothered him (Dragic) more than anyone. He should have translated it to those guys. I didn't see him get into anybody and tell them to bring it. It's going to be a big step and big part of his evolution. But in a situation like this, he was the only one on the court who was a top-10 player at his position in the last month of the season."