New era of Suns basketball begins with loss in Sacramento

After one of the more eventful summers in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns finally got back to the business of basketball Wednesday night against the Kings.

For the first 12 minutes, it appeared the so-called “squad in transition” was at ease without its former two-time MVP point guard. Over the final 36 minutes, however, the Suns looked very much like a team still searching for their newfound identity.

That’s all part of the ups and downs that are inevitable for a team beginning the preseason with seven new faces in town.

Phoenix dropped its first game of the post-Steve Nash era 102-96 to Pacific Division foe Sacramento on a night that Alvin Gentry’s squad gave up 27 fast break points off 17 turnovers while also allowing the Kings to crash the offensive glass relentlessly to the tune of 16 offensive rebounds and 44 points in the paint.

The Suns came out at Power Balance Pavilion firing on all cylinders, leading 30-26 after a quarter of play. But poor production off the bench to start the second period (Kings went on 10-1 run), a scoring drought midway through the third quarter (Kings went on 12-0 run) and a turnover-riddled final quarter (Kings went on 11-0 run), doomed Gentry and Co. in their six-point loss.

Outside of the Kings’ numerous offensive runs, Sacramento more than anything controlled the pace Wednesday night. They were more physical in the paint, pushed the tempo off turnovers, outfought the Suns in the rebound department and made it a point to get to the free throw line — with 26 makes to the Suns’ 26 attempts.

A lot intrigue heading into Wednesday’s preseason opener centered around free agent acquisitions Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola, and despite the game not having any worth in the win-loss column, Gentry wasn’t afraid to use his new toys.

Beasley was very effective offensively during the Suns’ high-scoring first quarter, scoring eight points on two three-point makes. Thought to be a one-man scoring machine, the former No. 2 overall pick didn’t try to do too much in his 24 minutes of play. Primarily playing small forward, Beasley was content hanging on the wings, taking shots — he finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting — when they were available and making smart passes into the post and around the perimeter when opportunities arose. Surprisingly the shoot-first forward led the team in assists with five, but also had three turnovers.

Scola, who played 22 minutes, also didn’t try to show too much in his first official showcase with the Suns. Scola played the part of the willing passer, crashed the glass at the defensive end and took advantage of his paint chances. The Argentine finished with seven points and five rebounds.

Dragic, who was sidelined for the better part of last week with an ankle injury, was plagued by foul trouble most of the night. He did, however, show signs of the player he was in Houston late last season, scoring nine points to go along with four assists.

In a game that the Suns were out-hustled and outplayed, there were some notable contributions off the bench.

Wes Johnson’s struggles from three-point range (2-for-9) continued against the Kings, but his confidence wasn’t shaken. Johnson led the team with 18 points, several of which came from 14-18 feet away. Markeiff Morris has been a dominant figure during the first eight days of camp and it showed in Sacramento. Morris still illustrated a tendency to settle for jump shots, but was productive off the pine, contributing 14 points (5-for-14) and five rebounds.

Arguably the most notable performance in Tuesday’s loss came from the Suns’ first-round draft pick, Kendall Marshall. Due to Dragic’s foul problems and an injury that sidelined Sebastian Telfair, the No. 13 pick from June’s draft played a team-high 28 minutes and showed several glimpses of what he’s capable of doing in an up-tempo offensive scheme. Like most of his teammates, though, Marshall struggled to get comfortable in the half court — accruing three turnovers and just four points on 1-for-6 shooting — but his consistent aggression despite mistakes and a double-digit fourth quarter deficit was very encouraging.

And 1

  • For those looking to watch the Suns/Kings game on NBA TV, you were probably disappointed when a Western Conference season preview show was flashing on your screen instead. The game was blacked out in the Phoenix and Sacramento markets.
  • As noted above, veteran point guard Sebastian Telfair didn’t suit up against the Kings. He was nursing a sore wrist suffered last week in San Diego.
  • A day after bumping heads with P.J. Tucker, shooting guard Shannon Brown also missed Tuesday’s contest. Following his accident with Tucker, Brown required seven stitches above his eye.  Jared Dudley got the start at the two and was effective in transition (10 points) and on the glass (five rebounds).
  • Tucker didn’t escape the injury bug either. Trying to make an NBA squad for the first time since 2006-07, the former Texas standout left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent stinger in his right shoulder.
  • Armen Soudjian created a fun video at training camp looking ahead to the team’s future.

  • steve

    Yawn,don’t you get bored with this after no one agrees with you besides your alter egos?

  • steve

    Also, thanks for inadvertently giving away your age. 15 years as a suns fan? That explains a bit.

  • Ryan


    What criticism are you talking about? I believe your critisism was pointed at Scott. I don’t count that point you thought you made on the 2 million in 02 03 season. Just chalk that up to you being a jack ass. So not only did you either not read or understand my post, you either didn’t read or understand your own post.

  • DanC133

    @ Tony
    I don’t care if they have to make stuff up to show Sarver as a good owner if you implode. On another note NOT paying Marion the outrageous amount he was asking for was smart at that time. Trading for Shaq with a team better at up tempo ball was a mistake but I doubt that trade was initially his idea, rather he just signed off on it.

    You seem to be a fan of Marshall and that’s ok. In time with his character and bball IQ he could be a decent point guard. As it stands now his right hand is weak handling the ball so it makes the opposition able to keep him from spots on the floor to make the good passes. He did show progress as the game wore on but it was minuscule. He does have heart and hung in there and that speaks well to his character. I disagree that Bassy would have tried to take over the game on his own but would have tried to make it tougher on them at the defensive end. Marshall may be a better passer skill wise but, at this time he’s a beat off in the flow of the game where I think Bassy would be more in sync. He is a rookie a lot of that is to be expected considering all the differences between college and the pros. Until he gets better handles most NBA guards will abuse him, and show him no respect due to his lack of a jumper and ability to get to the rack. Here is to hoping the best for the kid!

  • Tony


    don’t you ever get tired of being a condescending prick? And for someone who is so condescending, it’s odd that you continue to be so despite being wrong so often. But that’s ok, you continue to make stuff up and only tell part of the truth, and I will correct you every time,


    I agree that Sarver was right not to accept the steep price Marion was demanding. So I have no problem with him letting Marion go. However, I do have a problem with trading him for Shaq and sending Shaq off to the Cavs in a total salary-dump move. The fact that you can’t come up with any good examples of Sarver being a great owner just further proves my point that he is anything but a great owner. In fact, he’s easily in the top-3 of worst owners in the NBA.

  • steve

    Does your mom know you talk like that on the internet?

  • Andres

    Top 3 worst owner? Do you really think the T-wolves, Bobcats, Kings and/or Bucks have better owners?

  • Tony


    there you go again. Can’t argue in a respectful and constructive way, especially when your opinion on this subject is absurd, you resort to childish insults. Are you sure you’re not the 15 year old?


    No, I didn’t list the owners worse than Sarver. I rate Jordan as the worst owner in the NBA at this point, possibly followed by the Maloofs for being a-holes to the Sacramento Kings fanbase and even to the city by threatening to move their team to another city if the public doesn’t fund a new stadium. As far as the TImberwolves are concerned, their future is certainly much brighter than the Suns at the moment. Their front office under Taylor has turned that franchise around. If Rubio can come back early in the season, they are definitely a much better team than the Suns are and will likely make the playoffs.

    So besides the Maloofs and Jordan, yes, I rank Sarver in the bottom three. Moreover, besides the silly ignorant Sarver-supporters on this site, almost every objective sports analyist has Sarver ranked in the bottom tier of ownership.

  • steve

    Haha, *I* can’t argue in a respectful and constructive way? Oh man. You are fantastic. I can’t wait to talk to you about these days once you get older. Now that I know you’re 15, I don’t hold your faults against you. I was exactly like you when I was that age.

  • Andres

    @ Tony

    I dont think the Knicks or Clips owners are better than the Suns ownership group