Dragic, Dudley, Scola buoy preseason win in Dallas

Preseason is about the small victories.

Especially for a team like the Suns with so many new faces to integrate, it had to be encouraging that three crucial starters — Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and Luis Scola — played so well together in the Suns’ 100-94 victory over the Dirk-less Mavs on Wednesday night in Big D.

Although plus-minus figures should be taken with a grain of salt on a game-to-game basis, it still was nice to see that trio combine to outscore the Dallas starters by 20 points in their shared court time.

Along with Marcin Gortat, the Suns will be relying on those three starters to lead the team statistically and by example. If Alvin Gentry continues to go with the shift approach to substitutions, that trio will be logging many minutes together, so this early chemistry is huge.

The Suns jumped out to a 24-16 lead before Dragon, Dudley and Scola took their first rest 7:05 into the ballgame. The Mavs proceeded to outscore the Suns 38-25 the rest of the half to take a five-point lead into the break as Phoenix scored about as many points in the final 17 minutes of the half as it did the first seven.

The Suns shot an ugly 33.3 percent in the second quarter without that trio, including a 1-for-5 performance from Beasley, 0-for-4 from Markieff Morris and 1-for-4 from Bassy Telfair as bench play and five minutes of Beas and Gortat ruled the quarter.

The starters got the team back on track coming out of the halftime intermission. After O.J. Mayo drilled a trey to put Dallas up by six a minute and a half into the third quarter, the Suns ripped off a 17-2 run capped off by a JD trey. Dudley scored eight points during the run and Dragon dished four assists during a period of time in which Dallas hit one shot.

Overall, Dudley scored 16 on 7-for-9 shooting, Dragic went for 12 points and six assists and Scola 9-4-4, all in under 20 minutes.

“Anytime you have a high basketball IQ like Goran and Scola do, those guys just kind of feed off each other,” Dudley told reporters. “The more games you play the more comfortable you get. I know how [Scola] likes to pass the ball, I know where he likes the ball. And Goran, obviously playing with him before in Phoenix, he’s just so much more mature. He’s kind of slowed down, before he was one speed. We definitely have good chemistry going on. Defensively we have to get a little better on how we are going to do with the rotations, but I thought overall we played well offensively. Good things, from the first game in Sacramento we have definitely improved.”

As Dudley said, each member of that trio is a very smart basketball player, and Dragic is already familiar with both players from his previous stints in Phoenix and Houston. Obviously they have a ways to go before they just naturally know where each other will be as seemed to be the case during the Olympics for Scola and his longtime Argentinian teammates, but that will eventually come for high IQ players like them.

Of course, the long bench with Gentry trying out some of his non-roster players eventually helped the Mavericks battle back to within 90-88 on a Josh Akognon layup with four minutes remaining. The Suns seemed to be trying to give the game away when Akognon stole it from Bassy Telfair in the backcourt for a layup to once again cut the lead to two with a minute remaining in the game.

A huge scramble for the ball ensued on the next crucial Suns possession, and it ended with non-roster point guard Diante Garrett coming out of the pack to find Ike Diogu underneath for a monster crush. After Dominique Jones missed a five-footer at the other end the Suns had earned their first road win of the preseason to move to 2-1 overall.

“I think it was a typical preseason game,” Gentry told reporters. “There were some good things and bad things that went on this game. Some of the guys you get excited about and some of them you like to see do more. I do like how we’re playing hard and competing like crazy this preseason. I thought Goran did a great job tonight controlling the game and I also like what Luis is doing, too. … I think the big thing with us is the rebounding part and we did a much better job tonight. I was happy with the effort, but of course we have room for improvement.”

On that front the Suns did outrebound the Mavs 45-37 after being outboarded by the Kings and Blazers by four apiece. Most importantly, the Suns yielded 16 and 17 offensive boards to Sacto and Portland, respectively, but gave up just nine to Dallas. Allowing offensive rebounds has been a long-time Phoenix weakness, so it was nice to see the Suns with a strong effort in that realm for one game at least tonight.

Four different Suns reserves grabbed at least five boards, led by Morris’ six, and Diogu pulled down five in a mere six minutes. Morris wasn’t so good shooting the basketball, missing 12 of 14 shots, but it never deterred him as he confidently attempted a long ball with under two minutes left up two as if he had been draining them all night.

In all the Suns should feel good about the fact that three of their starters played so well against the Dirk-less Mavs as that unit continued to develop the continuity that could lead the Suns to surprise their critics come the regular season.

Central Division preview

The following are the Central previews for the NBA blog preview series:

Chicago Bulls: BlogABull.com

Cleveland Cavaliers: Fear The Sword | Waiting For Next Year

Detroit Pistons: DetroitBadBoys

Indiana Pacers: Indy Cornrows

Milwaukee Bucks: Brew Hoop

And 1

  • There’s a new Suns hub on Reddit that can be found here. For those who aren’t familiar, Reddit features links to popular stories, photos and videos from around the web that users can vote up within their specific categories.
  • AZ Front Row TV sat down with Bassy to discuss the upcoming season and his business ventures.
  • Dudley on Twitter: “Great team game tonight.. We’re slowly getting better each day. Everybody is buying in to the coaches and trying to improve.#teamchemistry
  • Diogu played just the six minutes and Tyler Zeller and Solomon Jones both received DNP-CDs as the Suns did little to sort out this potential competition for a final roster spot, if they choose to sign any of those three players. Kendall Marshall also did not play by coach’s decision for the first time as Telfair made his preseason debut after sitting out the first two games with an ankle injury. Garrett missed three shots in 10 minutes but made that crucial late dish to Diogu to help salt the game away.

  • shazam

    this game made me happy for a ton of reasons..have to ask though..whats up w/ gortat?

  • Sillmarillion

    Didn’t see the game, but Gortat’s stats seem just fine, don’t they? He played limited minutes, shot decently, had a good FT%, some nice rebounds and 3 blocks. I think that’s quite ok.

  • Andres

    I was lucky enough to get a link to a live stream from the ESPN comments section of this game – not sure why ESPN removed the live gamecast/box score from all the games…
    I like how the team played overall and I was glad to see that Bassy played with a lot of confidence however I’m concerned about Gortat. For some reason Dragic didnt pass the ball to him on a couple of PnR plays where Gortat was wide open, hopefully this wont become a trend…. Gortat definitely needs to be more aggressive if we want to have a shot at the playoffs
    I do like the fact that the team seems to be gelling well so far especially with all the new faces

  • JR

    @Andres you can download games at rojadirecta

  • Andres


    Thanks. I’ve used rojadirecta.com in the past but noticed not all the games are streamed and when they are its not best quality. I’ll give it a shot again to see if that has changed.

    I’ve also noticed that the league pass options for people outside the US are not the same one. I have yet to find a way to buy the pass for Suns games. If someone knows how to do this please let me know.

  • Shawn

    Gortat’s stats are okay, but you definitely need to watch his play to see that something just isn’t right. He’s either lacking motivation or just isn’t trying his hardest. He’s biting on fakes and simply getting beaten down low every time. Hopefully it’s just a preseason anomaly and not something that will drag into the season. It’s similar to how he played late last season (especially in the important Utah Jazz game).

  • Scott

    It’s possible Gortat is a little tired, or maybe mentally tired, having played a significant role in the summer with his national team. He came directly from that to practice with the Suns.

    While Scola played in the Olympics this summer, he’s used to pacing himself, and has learned to balance his summer play and NBA play.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Guys, since we are talking about the NBA League Pass. Do you recommend it? If I want to watch the Suns games should I get it then?
    I’m not from the US (Europe) so I don’t know whether there are any restrictions. Also, can you record games via this tool (it’s quite annoying if you have to get up at 3 or 4 am just to watch a basketball game…)
    Any hints?

  • Andres

    @ Shawn – I agree and if this happened playing against Kaman imagine what would happen playing against Tier 1 centers… He is lacking hustle and as I mentioned before hopefully Dragic is not loosing confidence on Gortat’s ability to finish the PnR because that seemed to be the case last night imo

  • Gilberto

    @ Shawn
    Isn’t that just Gortat’s MO though? He’s great when he’s the biggest guy on the floor but as soon as someone with similar to better skill-set comes in, he disappears. I like Gortat but I would like him more if he put on 10-15 lbs of muscle/mass to complement his athleticism/finesse.

  • Jeremiah


    I don’t believe you can record the games, but all the games will become available to watch again shortly after the game is over. They actually keep games in the archives so later in the season you can go back and watch games from the beginning of the season.

  • boris

    Yeah Gortat does seem out of flow, hopefully he can get something going and put up those double-doubles again, with Kevin Love out for 8 weeks, we have an actual shot at the playoffs.

  • http://ballcruncher.com Mr. Cruncher

    Does anyone have an explanation to why Marshall did not play in the game? I may have missed if he is nursing an injury or another cause. I understand the need to get Telfair minutes, especially if he will be the backup PG to start the season, but I am surprised to see KM receive a DNP Coach’s Decision.

  • JR

    I dont expect more from Gortat this year without PnR, 10-14 per game plus defence, key to winning this year is eight guys who can score 10+ every game and if they do that they gonna go to playoffs.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Scott & Shawn

    If you just picked up on that about Gortat’s game, welcome to the club. I picked that up about his game a year ago. It’s not this game trust me, that’s just his game. He lacks IQ. That’s why Dudz was able to connect with Scola & Dragic quickly right now because birds with the same color flocks together.

    I love Gortat though. I like how he’s trying hard and hustles. But if he just uses his head and try not to do too much to prove that he’s the best, it’d go alot easier on him.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Mr Cruncher

    Telfair just needed more minutes. You can expect Marshall to play in OKC though, he’s not injured or whatever. The 2nd unit was just too stagnant without him pushing the ball.

    I think this team is too good to NOT make the playoffs. We have a solid starting line-up, better than last year. Last year our go-to-guy was Gortat, this year that option is 3rd or 4th best. That says alot.

  • ilintar

    “It’s not this game trust me, that’s just his game. He lacks IQ.”

    Sorry, but that’s simply not true. Gortat just led the Polish national team to the Eurobasket, not solely by his scoring, but also by making all the right decisions when he was double and triple-teamed and dishing a ton of great passes to perimeter players (he had games with 5 assists I think and that’s on a team where few people really can shoot). His main flaws are the following:

    * he’s undersized (even more so now that he’s lost a few pounds, which he admitted himself, hence the “Polish Gazelle”) – this didn’t hurt him so much in the Euro plays, but in the NBA, where the big man are really big, that really makes a difference
    * he overthinks plays, which sometimes leads him to try a weird maneuver, then change it in the middle or to hold the ball too long thinking what to do, allowing himself to get stripped
    * he’s pretty bad at playing off the ball, which means his game is going to hurt even more if he’s kept out of the offensive schemes

  • Ty-Sun

    Gortat and Dragic just aren’t used to each other yet. PNR seems like a simple play but the PG especially has to now his PNR partner is going to move and when to get him the ball. It’s timing and chemistry which the two just don’t have yet. It will come as the season goes on. Dudley and Dragic have played together before. Scola and Dragic have played together before. Gortat and Dragic have had very limited time to play together.

  • JR

    I agree with Ty-Sun, they just need few practice together, yesterday Gortat receive just one PnR pas and it was from Beasley

  • PennyAnd1

    P n R is relevant with our team this season.


    It’s too bad Gortat can’t make the right decisions for Phoenix like what he did with the Polish team. Congrats to that team by the way.

  • PennyAnd1

    I meant P n R is *irrelevant. It won’t be as potent as with Nash. Plus they have better options.

  • http://none Mikel

    Gortat sucks!! all we need from him is defense, rebounding, and toughness! and im not sure he can do that!! hopefully!! Go SUNS!!

  • DanC133

    @ penny

    There will never be a time on a Gentry coached Suns team where PnR will be irrelevant. What planet are you on, surely not planet orange.

    As for Gortat I’d say its a combination of issues. First he is tired after the euros so is likely coasting some in preseason. Second with Dragic hurt for camp in San Diego they have had very little playing time together and it shows. Gortat hesitates a split second after the screen before he rolls and it will take time together to get that down. Third I agree with the above poster that said it appears he is thinking too much instead of playing on instinct which makes him the player he is. It is only a couple games into preseason, way too early to start bagging on a center that is rated in the top ten statistically for all centers & PF’s in the league.

  • PennyAnd1


    Lol. You don’t Gentry has coach another team before? He LA Clippers and I don’t remember him running the P n R there. hello.

    P n’ R is not something anyone can do. You got to have vision and a really good PG in order to run that play on a consistent basis. Not to say Goran can’t do it, Goran can. It just won’t be on a consistent basis like when Nash was here because quite frankly, it would be a poor man’s Nash-Amare combo, plus like I mentioned earlier, there are better options.

    And about Gortat hesitating rather than just playing on instinct?LOL You absolutely think it’s just the preseason?!! He’s been doing that since he got on board in Phoenix. That’s why Nash was so upset! Again I say, I’ve never seen Nash lose patient with a player before than with Gortat. It’s his IQ. Just face it. He’s a good guy who hustles and works hard, but he will never be great because he lacks IQ.

  • PennyAnd1

    And 1 Danc133.

    I Love Gortat as the Suns center playing alongside Scola, I don’t like him running the offense though. I really think the starting line-up we have will be hard to stop if everyone just do their thing.

  • Scott

    @Penny -

    I don’t think you can equate the Suns teams Gortat has been on with the teams Nash had before. If Nash was ever frustrated, I think it’s not simply because Gortat couldn’t finish like Amare, but because there was also no Joe, no Marion, no Q, no Raja, and not even a Boris or a Barbosa. And after Dragic was traded away, not even him.

    With last year’s team, Nash, Gentry, and everyone decided their best bet for regular offense was to run the pick and roll with Gortat, and when that failed, there was no scoring threat or go-to guy to pitch the ball to, to bail them out. Dudley did what he could, as did Hill and Frye. It just wasn’t the same synergy of parts that Nash enjoyed with earlier versions of the Suns.

    The Suns can’t lean on Gortat like they leaned on Amare. Like any player, Gortat is a trade off. He’s cheaper than Amare and he has better defensive energy. He gets rebounds. He also scores more and more reliably than many centers, but not as much as Amare did.

  • PennyAnd1


    “The Suns can’t lean on Gortat like they leaned on Amare. Like any player, Gortat is a trade off. He’s cheaper than Amare and he has better defensive energy. He gets rebounds. He also scores more and more reliably than many centers, but not as much as Amare did.”

    This. I just don’t like how everyone claims that Gortat is better than Amare in a way that he’s a better finisher or what. For a PF, I thought Amare did well playing the center.

  • Ty-Sun

    Gortat is a piece of the puzzle, not the answer. Like Scott said, the PNR with Gortat was the best/most reliable half-court option that the Suns had last year… and other teams knew that too. This year they won’t have to rely on him as much which is great for him and the team. I expect that his scoring might go down a little this year but not because he and Dragic can’t run the PNR well but because they won’t have to rely on it as much. If he continues to get 10 rpg and plays tough D I’ll be happy.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    I agree. I think Gortat’s scoring will be down simply because the offense won’t call for him as much. Also, I’d expect that his scoring would come a bit less from pick and roll and more from passes from Scola, Beasley, and Dudley.