Marcin Gortat rights the ship, Suns fall to Warriors


David Lee takes a shot over Marcin Gortat. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)

David Lee shoots over the outstreched arm of Marcin Gortat. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)

After a sluggish start to the preseason, Marcin Gortat finally found his groove Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors. The Suns’ starting center played 26 minutes and did not miss a shot, going 8-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line en route to 19 points. Marcin also grabbed 10 boards to complete the first of what will surely be many double-doubles this season.

The Suns as a team, however, were not quite as perfect on the night as Gortat, losing 107-92 at Oracle Arena. With the loss, the Suns fell to 3-3 in the preseason while the Warriors improved to 6-2.

Fueled by Gortat’s 12 first-quarter points, the Suns jumped out to a 28-25 lead after 12 minutes. The second unit, which played most of the second quarter, was unable to hold that lead though, and the Suns trailed 55-46 at halftime. Phoenix never got closer than five points the rest of the night. Coach Alvin Gentry after Monday night’s game vowed to give the bench players plenty of minutes against Golden State, and he was true to his word. He seemed more concerned with playing and evaluating the reserves than the score of the game. None of the starters, save Gortat, played more than 24 minutes in this one. Every bench player except Diante Garrett (four minutes), Ike Diogu (DNP-CD), and Solomon Jones (DNP-CD) played 10 minutes or more.

Markieff Morris was the biggest standout from the bench. He scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards in 26 minutes of play. Morris alternated minutes at the power forward spot with starter Luis Scola. Scola scored 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Disappointingly, he collected only two rebounds in his 23 minutes on the court.

Sebastian Telfair (16 minutes) and Kendall Marshall (13 minutes) took turns spelling Goran Dragic at the point guard spot. Marshall was the more effective of the two on this occasion, scoring eight points and hitting both of his 3-point attempts. Dragic played only 20 minutes, but still managed six assists and eight points. He hit two of his three attempts from downtown. Wesley Johnson scored no points and committed five personal fouls in just 13 minutes of play. Coach Gentry alternated between Johnson and P.J. Tucker, who had a slightly better night, scoring six points on 3-of-3 from the floor.

Two substitution patterns stood out in this game. First, either Scola or Morris was on the floor at all times. That said, they were never on the floor together. Gentry does not seem to be exploring the idea of Scola at center and Morris at power forward like some, including myself, have speculated he would. Second, Gentry seems to be looking for a spark from Johnson or Tucker. Johnson has been ineffective for the last two days, which has forced Gentry to sit him in favor of Tucker. As noted yesterday by Michael Schwartz, Gentry is looking to Tucker for energy off the bench. He’ll need more out of both of these guys as the season progresses.

Starting wings Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley both had forgettable nights. Dudley made only one of his six shots in 19 minutes, while Beasley shot 3-for-11 from the field in 24 minutes. Beasley is shooting under 35 percent in his last four preseason games. Clearly, he is still getting comfortable with his role in this offense. The Suns are relying on him to be a scorer. He’ll have to be much more efficient if Phoenix is going to have any chance of being successful. Overall the Suns shot under 32 percent from 3-point range. That number will have to improve if Phoenix wants to prevent defenses from collapsing down on Gortat and Scola when the regular season begins.

Golden State was led by rookie Harrison Barnes and David Lee, both of whom dropped 16 points. Stephen Curry was nursing an ankle injury and did not play. Centers Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins were also sidelined with injuries, which forced Golden State to start Festus Ezeli at center. Bogut and Biedrins’ absence definitely contributed to Gortat’s big game and the Suns winning the rebounding battle 39-37. Despite missing some big name players though, the Warriors still shot 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. Clearly Elston Turner has some work to do with the reserves.

The Suns will host the Nuggets in their final preseason game this Friday. Then Phoenix will have five days to fine tune before the regular season kicks off Halloween night against the Warriors in US Airways Center.

Tags: Golden State Warriors Marcin Gortat Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recap Preseason

  • Scott

    I thought Gentry said he was going to play Beasley a few minutes at PF. I guess he’s happy enough with what Morris is doing that he’s forgotten about it.

    I still think Gentry should consider a small ball 2nd unit lineup with Morris at C.

  • Sillmarillion

    If the Suns lose to these starless Warriors it’s really not a good sign (even if it was mainly the 2nd unit that played). Okay, Gortat had a nice game and let’s hope he can carry this shape into the season.
    But what happened to Dudley? Beasley seems to get weaker, not stronger.
    Many question marks on the horizon…

  • PennyAnd1

    Is it just me or is anyone else pissed off at Brown trying to be like Kobe again. Too many ball-hogs in this game. The ball needs to keep moving if they want to be successful.

    This will take time getting used to. We’re back to highschool bball again.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Sillmarillon

    I blame Gentry for not having Dudley get involve in the game more. But then again, there were too many ballhogs in the game, hence Dudz only attempted 6 shots.

    Get used to it guys. After watching an elite team led by Nash all those years, textbook bball is no longer applied. I hope they trade Brown this season. They have to get rid of this guy.

    Gortat was nice. This is what I wanted from Gortat. Scrappy work that led to 19 points. The offense wasn’t going through him, thus he was the silent assassin. No pressure on him because he wasn’t the star that the offense had to go through like last year. He keeps this up, and I’m a happy man.

  • Ty-Sun

    What I see is a team that can’t be shut down by another team trying to clamp down on any one player. Depending on the matchups, anyone on this team could be the leading scorer on any given night. And Morris seems to be a consistent weapon off the bench. Brown and Johnson aren’t as consistent but they could light it up on any given night too. O’Neal should be a big plus as long as he’s not forced to play too many minutes (which increases his potential for injury). I also expect Tucker to contribute on the nights where Johnson is having an off night. He hustles and plays hard every minute. The 2nd unit PG spot is still a little iffy but I think that, depending on the opposing PG, Gentry may have to decide whether Telfair or Marshall is the best choice for any given game.

    This team has the potential to be very good this year. Not great but very good.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Since it’s only preseason, I’m going to try to withhold judgement, but I must say I was not impressed with Beasley or Wes Johnson at all. Johnson’s man defense looked suspect, and if that’s what we can expect out of him, I would have rather kept Lopez. Markieff was a beast though. It looked like he worked on his post-up game during the summer.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Ty-Sun

    It don’t matter if a player can’t be shut down. I still favor textbook bball, if double-teamed pass the ball to the open man. The was all thrown out at last nights game, basically by Beasley & Brown, a little in Scola & Morris.

  • Scott

    @Fan -

    Remember, Johnson is just a “try before you buy” guy. He gets to show what he has – if anything – this season. If the Suns don’t like what they see, he’s not sticking around.

    @Penny -

    Same deal with Brown. He was playing his best at the end of last season, so the Suns signed him up again. But only this year is guaranteed, IIRC.

    —-

    So, the Suns can be rid of Telfair, Brown, Johnson, and O’Neal at the end of the year. Or, if there’s any takers, they could be traded away this season as expiring contracts.

    Also, Scola could be traded for assets in the summer, and we don’t know about Frye.

    With as many as six players gone, obviously the Suns are going to try to reload this summer, but who can they get?

    Possible R/UFAs in 2013 include: Taj Gibson, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala (if he takes his early termination option), Steph Curry, James Harden, and Josh Smith.

    If the Suns were to take Taj Gibson, it would be delayed justice for having taken Earl Clark instead. If the Suns were to sign Andre Iguodala, it would be delayed justice for having traded away the pick that could have taken him for essentially nothing.

    —-

    As for that game against the Warriors, both Dudley and Brown shot poorly. I don’t know if that should be credited to the defense of the Warriors or if it was a bad shooting night for the two SGs. Whichever, it also came on a night where Johnson, who can play SG, was also severely discombobulated.

    While the starless Suns can still win even when one of their players is shut down, I don’t think they’re likely to win if all their wing players are shut down. Beasley had 7 pts, Brown had 7 pts, Tucker had 6 pts, and Dudley had 2 pts.

    By comparison, Marshall scored 8 pts, and in fewer minutes than Brown, Beasley, and Dudley.

  • shazam

    when it comes to shooting percentage against the warriors its pretty simple…the team has been worked out hard to get in to fast break bb shape..and then they were thrown in to their first back to back…a little rest before the season and young legs will appear and more shots will fall..this is all going to plan…with that said we are still below mediocre for awhile talent wise

  • silver

    This is exactly the kind of game I want Gortat to have every night. I know his competition was suspect. But it was put-backs, short-range shots, rebounding, defense, blocking shots. Exactly the kind of scrappy, hustle, dirty game he needs to have every night. Be Scola’s wingman in the paint, be ready for dunks/alley oops, hit the short FGs and if all that fails then get the offensive rebounds if we miss our jumpers (5 OREBs last night).

  • PennyAnd1

    @Silver

    You took my words about Gortat.

  • DanC133

    I wouldn’t write too much into marshall yet it’s the first game he has had more then one bucket isn’t it. As for the wings it appeared there was more of a lack of focus then anything else. I’d wager that had more to do with preseason and GSW rather then being outplayed. I wouldn’t expect that kind of effort on friday. Watching J.Oneil I think we got an upgrade at backup 5. He seems thoroughly engaged and has a chip on his shoulder with something to prove. That’s good for Suns fans to be sure. I’m glad we FINALLY got rid of that plodding, zombie-like, awkward looking backup fropez.