PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns will eventually shoot the ball.
Or at least that’s the mantra they keep repeating after surviving another poor shooting performance to defeat the even more inept Golden State Warriors, 92-87.
This was far from your typical Suns-Warriors shootout with the Suns shooting 37.8 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from three and the Warriors hitting just 33.0 percent of their 100 shots and 19.2 percent of their long balls.
“I’m just not real sure they’re going to pack that one up and send it to Springfield,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry joked. “I didn’t think either team played the way they’re capable of playing, but I did think that we played hard and did a good job defensively. We didn’t shoot the ball well at all, but I thought there were some good things that happened out there.”
Before the game, Gentry said he was “baffled” by the Suns’ porous long-range shooting but not exactly concerned because the team was getting open looks and just not converting.
That trend continued once again Tuesday night, as the second-best three-point shooting team in NBA history last season has hit just south of a quarter of its three-point attempts this preseason.
“Yeah, we are getting good looks,” said Jason Richardson, who was 4-for-13. “Shots I normally make, shots Steve normally makes, Grant, just go down the line of guys who make those shots. For some reason they’re not falling in preseason. The good thing is it doesn’t count, and the good thing is we’re getting all the misses out so when it comes October 26 those shots will go in.”
Added Jared Dudley, “The good thing about is it doesn’t count, doesn’t count against you, so that’s the good thing. The positive is that we won tonight without shooting well, and I think it’s something that’s going to take a little bit of time.
“It’s just going to be more of a learning process with this team of how we can get open shots. Amare’s not rolling here anymore, it’s got to be different ways, penetration, taking better shots and hopefully throughout time it happens that way.”
However, Gentry called the Suns’ poor shooting the least of his worries, as Phoenix’s struggles defending dribble penetration and rebounding the basketball are much more substantial long-term worries.
The Suns were outrebounded just 60-56 in this one, but they did yield 22 offensive rebounds, including five in 16 minutes for Andris Biedrins. That number is high, but when a team misses 67 shots like Golden State did they will get a fair percentage back.
Robin Lopez, whose mother and brother (not Brook) sat courtside, did some nice board work with 14 points and 10 rebounds (five offensive) in 25 minutes. He pulled down seven in the first quarter alone, but he was beaten to a few defensive rebounds by Biedrins that shouldn’t happen.
The Suns used regular rotations for the first time this season, as only their top 10 played. The starters got a good chunk of time together and the five core bench guys got a few extended runs together as well, struggling in the first half but pulling away from Golden State in the second half.
“It’s just going to take a while to try to figure out,” Gentry said. “I mean we’re trying to stick guys out there and give them a chance to play and play with different guys and play with Steve and with Steve off the floor. It’s just going to be one of those things that take time for that to come together.”
Things started to come together Tuesday night, as Nash played 34 minutes, but every other rotation player was in the 20s aside from Goran Dragic, who racked up a 10-4-4 in the 14 minutes Nash didn’t play.
Hedo Turkoglu struggled once again with a 2-for-9 shooting performance. He nailed a wide-open three and a wide-open layup but otherwise was off with his shot. After a second-half air ball, he crashed the boards hard the next possession and then dove out of bounds for a loose ball after that, seemingly the first signs of life from him all night.
Most discouraging was the fact that he played the role of spot-up shooter instead of facilitator. The Suns played his acquisition up by saying they got another playmaker who can take pressure off Nash and create offense for the Suns.
He never really initiated the offense and made plays, which is something he must do at least on occasion to justify his salary and really the acquisition in the first place
Josh Childress’ injury was another negative, but in the end the Suns managed to do just enough to win their second game of the preseason.
“I like that the game got close, and we still found a way to win it with somebody other than Steve making the big shots, so that’s a plus right there,” Gentry said. “We’re not shooting the ball well right now, but I think that’s something that will come.”
Suns cut Dowdell, Jones
The Suns announced that they waived Zabian Dowdell and Dwayne Jones after the game.
Dowdell averaged 5.4 points and 1.6 assists in five preseason contests, while Jones put up 2.0 points and 3.3 boards in three exhibition games. Presumably this means Matt Janning and Garret Siler will make the Suns’ roster, barring something along the lines of an Erick Dampier signing. Scott Schroeder from Ridiculous Upside nearly peed his pants over the news.
Janning provides shooting and combo guard size as well as a high basketball IQ and a grinder mentality, and Siler brings a whole lot of size. That’s one thing you can’t teach as we all know, so his upside certainly surpasses that of Jones, a quality rebounder but a guy unlikely to get a lot better than he is right now.
The Suns conclude preseason play with a 7 p.m. MST tilt against the Denver Nuggets Friday in US Airways Center.