Phoenix Suns shoot their way to first preseason win just like old times

Posted by on October 13th, 1:08 am

PHOENIX — The Suns may be entering a new era, yet the positives and negatives of Friday’s 104-93 home-opening win over the Portland Trail Blazers sure seem awfully familiar.

Phoenix shot its way to victory by drilling 10-of-20 treys and shooting 51.2 percent overall, thanks in large part to the open shots created by point guard Goran Dragic’s dribble penetration and solid spacing while the starters were in.

On the flip side, the Suns yielded 17 offensive rebounds (when has that not been a problem?) and did not defend Portland’s penetration as well as head coach Alvin Gentry would have liked them to (again, another common Gentry gripe through the years).

In all the Suns jumped out to an early 23-10 lead during a first quarter in which the squad scorched the nets for 5-of-7 treys and 61.1 percent shooting overall and cruised to the first win of the new era.

“It was just a good win, preseason game, but a good win,” Gentry said. “I think for us we’re trying to create a winning environment here, so first and foremost I think you’ve got to do it at home. Typical preseason game, but I thought a lot of good things, and then obviously there are some areas that we still have to work on. … Overall a good effort for the second preseason game. We have to continue to try to get better.”

Aside from the Suns’ point guards, who clanked their four long balls, it was a total team effort from behind the arc. Beasley hit a pair while Dudley, Morris, Brown (who made his debut after receiving seven stitches around his eye), Luke Zeller and even Luis freaking Scola, who nailed as many treys tonight as he did the past five years in Houston in 17 attempts, made one.

“When guys take open shots, don’t force any, there’s no reason we shouldn’t knock down eight, nine threes a game,” Beasley said.

Wesley Johnson, who shot 31.4 percent from distance last season in Minnesota, unleashed a 3-for-4 shooting night from 3-point range and looked great doing it. The form has always been there and even on the one he missed his jumper seemed to be oozing with confidence.

“He’s a good player,” Gentry said. “I think with him the whole thing was just confidence. He needed confidence, and that’s not unusual for a young player, so hopefully we’re going to try to instill that in him. His overall game is better than we anticipated. He puts the ball down, he’s a long guy, pretty good defender, gets out and runs. We’ll just continue to try to work with him to get him to the point where he’s a very consistent and very confident player.”

In all five Suns scored in double figures led by Morris’ 14 in 16:36 (he also committed four fouls in 3:47 in the first half) and three more tallied at least eight.

Goran Dragic scored just eight points in his 30 minutes but he also dished nine assists and snatched five rebounds while really opening up the floor for his teammates with his dribble drives. The Suns were a game-high plus 24 with Dragon on the floor, the kind on contribution the team often used to get out of the point guard whose former locker now belongs to Dragic.

The Suns did not run many pick and rolls because Dragic said the team was trying to institute some new offensive sets yet with the Slovenian at the controls the starters scored with ease.

“I was playing like that the last 30 games in Houston,” Dragic said. “I tried to involve my teammates, and then if everybody’s dangerous for a basket it’s much easier for me. I’m going to get open shots, open lanes, just tried to get the ball to everybody. That’s how we’re going to beat some teams.”

Added Gentry, “Goran is in a really good place.”

The Suns won’t shoot the lights out from three every game and they will not often win when giving up 17 offensive boards. It’s understandable that it will take time for the bench to jell, especially in a situation like this with so many players shuttling in and out for the coaching staff to get a better hold of the roster, but the bench as a whole needs to provide more of a spark.

Still, there were enough positives for Gentry and staff to feel good about the progress this team has already made early in the season.

“We started really well, especially in offense and in defense, too,” Dragic said. “We were controlling the game, but we still have a long way to go. The second game was way better than the first game in Sac.”

And 1

The Suns received solid contributions from their three non-roster big men making a push for a roster spot if the team decides it needs another big to cover for the loss of Channing Frye.

Luke Zeller was not shy pulling the trigger on jumpers, finishing with five points on 2-for-5 shooting along with a pair of assists in 11:52.

Solomon Jones was active in scoring four points and grabbing a pair of boards in 7:48.

Ike Diogu controlled the boards with five caroms in 10:54 (three offensive) along with four points.

Based on his ability to rebound the basketball, Diogu figures to have an edge if the Suns opt to add another frontcourt player.

“I think they’ve done a good job in practice, and the thing that’s been discouraging is they’ve dominated practice,” said Gentry, meaning they have outplayed the Suns’ regulars. “I wanted to get them some minutes on the floor. They’re a good group of guys, and I think everybody pulls for each other. They did a good job. They executed pretty well when they were out there. You take advantage of the minutes that you get.”

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap · Portland Trail Blazers · Three-Pointers

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mikel // Oct 13, 2012 at 1:24 am

    overall i thought the suns looked pretty good! im excited about this team! hopefully people go to the games though i saw alot of empty seats. i live a few hours away but im still gana try to make it to a couple games this season. Go SUNS!!!!

  • 2 PennyAnd1 // Oct 13, 2012 at 1:47 am

    @Mikel

    Are the preseason games free to go live?

  • 3 hawki // Oct 13, 2012 at 2:56 am

    The replay of this game is on NBA TV at 9:00 am this morning…..well, hopefully it is

  • 4 Scott // Oct 13, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Good to see Dragic is penetrating and dishing, as that’s been a consistent strength of the Suns the last several years. It’s something Marshall needs to pick up.

    Also glad to see Scola shooting the 3. My impression is that he’s like Grant Hill, in that as a high IQ player he can adapt to shooting the corner 3 without too much trouble, if that’s what the team needs. Adding that skill will make Scola that much more valuable.

  • 5 Gilberto // Oct 13, 2012 at 8:37 am

    They looked nice, which was a surprise, but I still would like to see more out of Gortat or Beasley in the paint. One’s gotta be that disruptive inside guy that gets fouls and dominates. Overall, they looked good.

  • 6 Jeremiah // Oct 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

    @Gilberto

    Add WJ to that list. I think it would help his game a lot if he would be willing to attack the basket.

  • 7 matthew // Oct 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Beasley rebounding numbers concern me…If this guys is ever going to be what he could be, he’s got to crash the boards.

  • 8 sun also rises // Oct 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I loved watching this one but the whole time I just kept thinking that it would have been a blow out the other way if those shots didn’t fall. The story of being a Suns fan these days. All this time at the wheel and Gentry still doesn’t have a back up plan for those nights when we can’t buy a shot.

    But if you want a silver lining at least that’s the exact same problem we had when Nash was here for the last two seasons!

  • 9 Jeremiah // Oct 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    This team is built to make a lot of those shots and that is why they are making them at a high clip. Also it is kind of a silly statement to say that the team would have been blown out if they didn’t make their shots, isn’t that always the case with any team?

  • 10 Ty-Sun // Oct 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Gentry has a full training camp and preseason this year to get his lineups and rotations down. We have a strong starting 5 and Morris and Johnson look really good coming off the bench. Brown also player well off the bench in this game. Marshall doesn’t seem NBA ready yet but we still have Telfair. Hopefully he’ll be able to play in the next preseason game and we’ll get a better idea of how well the bench unit can play. 13-15 man rotations are fine in preseason but once the games that count start the 2nd unit will be set and we’ll see what this team is really capable of.

  • 11 DanC133 // Oct 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I was glad I could find an online feed for the game. Too many times here in vegas it’s hard to get the Suns on TV. I’m thankful for some of our European fans making them available on the net.

    Brown had a good stat line but on several possessions he dribbled out half of the clock missing open team mates, to take contested shots. One thing I noticed, on at least 4 of the offensive boards, Gortat was coming from the weak side to help and nobody rotated to his man to help. I forget who said Beasley needs to be a force on the boards for us. If he gets his career average he will be an upgrade over Grant Hill in that department. That coupled with being a better % 3 point shooter will off set some of the loss of defense from Hill.

    A while back I made a comment about WJohnson and his shot just needing confidence that his stroke was fine and I’m glad to see it appears that Gentry agrees. I believe Turner will help him defensively and he will be a good fit at the backup 3. I think that in time he and Bassy as a tandem on the second unit can play some good perimeter defense and can get together for some good traps. This is something I can see that could help the second unit keep us in games.

    Over all I can see our second unit being ok this year. I can foresee Morris, Brown, and Johnson being able to score, Oneal will be ok for short stretches at the 5. With some work I could see Bassy leading that group to be decent on both ends of the floor and keeping us in games or on some nights having an advantage over other teams second unit.

    From what I’ve seen out of Marshall he is a high Bball IQ guy that doesn’t have the skills {yet I hope} to play at this level. In time he could, and again I hope he does, as he seems to be a sharp kid that also has a decent character.

    The turnovers will take care of themselves with more time together I’m just hopeful the offensive rebounds do. I actually think Beasley did a decent job guarding Batoum although he will never be a G. Hill. Realizing this was just preseason, and a depleted Blazers roster it was decent outing overall I’d give it a B-.

  • 12 PennyAnd1 // Oct 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    The Suns have a nice offensive scheme this season and it really does work with the guys we have. The ball movement was awesome. The rebound is what kept Blazers from coming back, but hey it’s not like a they made a threat in winning the game. I liked what I saw.

    By the way, I love the new court. It’s hot! It matches well with the purple seats.

    How much do you guys want to bet that the Suns will make the playoffs. Nash is right when he said Suns will be a surprise. I’m not surprise because of the IQ we have this season that’s coupled with youth.

    And 1 -> Marshall. I just liked how he pushed the ball, and setting guys up. The tempo was consistent throughout because of him. It wouldn;t be a surprise to me if he rips backup guard from Telfair. I like Telfair though, he’s a good kid with a passion. We’ll see.

  • 13 Mikel // Oct 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    @pennyand1 i doubt that u can go in for free, but still i would think the fans would be more excited to watch our new team even if it was preseason!. i know im excited about our suns even if my stat n nash are gone! Go SUNS!!!

  • 14 PennyAnd1 // Oct 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

    @Mikel

    I agree that this season will be exciting, no offense to Nash. Last season our offense was predictable especially when our best option was Gortat, no pun intended. But this season Gortat is probably as good as the 4th or even 5th best option this time around, which is so much of a good thing believe me.

  • 15 steve // Oct 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I won some tickets for the game on the 31st. they’re lower bowl, around the 15th row. I’ll check the ticket price when I get them, but I also doubt they’re free. Probably 25-50% of regular season ticket prices is what I would be willing to pay. Or if they are free, it’s probably only to season ticket holders.

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