Suns 104, Trail Blazers 98 -- Meaningful perfection?

Phoenix moved to 2-0 in the preseason with a Wednesday night win against the Portland Trail Blazers and there is certainly room for optimism — at least, optimism relative to a team expected to win few more than 20 games, if that.

Goran Dragic scored 19 points and had five assists in just 18 minutes off the bench as Suns coach Jeff Hornacek staggered the Slovenian point guard and Eric Bledsoe. Though Bledsoe got the start as the lone point guard alongside Shannon Brown, he struggled by shooting 3-for-11 from the floor. He did have nine assists and four steals.

How did the Suns answer our pregame questions?

Would the Suns impose their style on the Blazers?

A game that ended with a six-point margin was not as close until it was garbage time. Phoenix used its tempo to pile up the points here and there, and early on the Suns especially made Portland pay for missing shot after shot. Eventually, things evened out as the benches began playing their parts. Phoenix again struggled with consistent focus on defense, and against an NBA squad for the first time, that resulted in blown leads.

The Suns didn’t use their blazing lineup of Dragic and Bledsoe, which only made it all that impressive. They forced 18 turnovers to score 26 points and additionally only scored eight of the fastbreak variety, a sign the halfcourt offense wasn’t too awful.

Could the Suns knock down the three-point shot?

For a game, the Suns looked quite competent behind the three-point arc. Phoenix shot 9-for-17 from deep with four players accounting for all the makes. The Morris twins — for the second game in a row Marcus Morris truly looked like a shooter — Dragic and Channing Frye were all stellar. It’s not too meaningful as a preseason game, but it’s important for that confidence to grow.

Which big men impressed?

Frye’s return to his offseason home and his return to the court officially for the first time was truly something to see.

The stretch power forward hit 5-of-6 shots and 3-of-4 from three-point range to score 14 points in just 16 minutes played.

The Morris twins both had efficient nights, although Marcus Morris got the best line of 15 points and seven rebounds. Markieff Morris struggled defensively in brief minutes against Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 10 points in 13 minutes.

A reduced rotation compared to Monday’s opener only gave Alex Len 14 minutes and Slava Kravtsov none, but Len did himself no favors by looking slow against NBA competition. He had two rebounds, missed two shots and had four personal fouls during his stint. It’s also an understandable performance since he’s a rookie and still getting into shape coming off ankle surgeries.

Miles Plumlee played 21 minutes and had nine points, four rebounds and two blocks. He looks uncomfortable when not rolling hard to the hoop or getting deep post position to use a nice jumphook he can get off over almost anyone. He uses his athleticism a little more than his positioning on defense, but he’s certainly worked his way into consideration when Hornacek next takes to the chopping block in terms of minutes.

  • NOitall

    Wish they would show these games on TV

  • Foreveris2long

    Other than a poor shooting night Bledsoe seemed to play well with 4 steals, 9 assists and 5 rebounds. in 25 minutes This guy is a keeper. Marshall was terrible with 0 points, 1 assist and 2 turnovers. Madd love to Frye for being healthy and playing well. Keep it going Big Fella.

  • east coast

    I’m worried we are going to end up with a late lottery pick.

  • east coast

    Yes, I know it’s one game, but with Dragic leading a bunch of decent shooters, this team could easily win 30

  • SkyBill40

    Another game, another showcase of wasted talent in Len.

  • .

    That 13th pick last year was a waste. Suns could have drafted someone else and signed Scott Machado during summer league. On another note, I really like the new away jerseys more than the old ones. Will still be getting moneys worth for every Suns game. Suns need to learn to keep the lead and protect the paint better.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    Boys start with two wins in the preseason … a good start!
    I wanted to ask: I have seen that we have a very long roster … who will be left out?

  • Ty-Sun

    Elviro – Smith and Lee will most likely be cut. After that my guess would be Nunnally, Christmas and/or Kravtsov would go next. The Suns will probably keep at least one of those three but your guess is as good as mine as to which one that will be.

  • Voqar

    “Wish they would show these games on TV”

    Yep. I don’t see how preseason hoops can be worse for ratings than the generic and regular garbage they dish up. I also don’t get why every baseball game including preseason is shown when baseball is more boring than watching a blank screen and their season is so long it’s mind numbing.

  • Azbballfan

    Hey Skybill40

    Who would you rather have drafted instead of Len?

  • john

    I’m not in on the Len hate. I don’t think he’s the next Dream or anything, but I think he’s going to be a great guy to have over the next 4-5 years. If Goodwin progresses like I think he will, the Suns draft a game-changer this year, and they can manage to attract an all-star caliber player to PHX in the next couple of seasons, the Suns are a 2-3 years away from completely turning this thing around, and Len is going to be an excellent guy to have in that mix.

    Who doesn’t want athletic 7-footers on their team?

    I can’t wait until LeBron gets old and someone else can win.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    @ Ty-Dom

    You think your reading is good …
    For the last place I think a lot will depend on the possible market moves that will be made …
    If Gortat will be exchanged for something good whether it be a player or a draft pick instead … it would be logical to take Kravtsov ….
    I think I understand something more of the future market also these moves …

    however I have seen Kravtsov at the European Championships and he made ??a good impression …

    As for the comments about Len say diamoli the time it takes to grow … he … is agile physical …. and good hands …. hopefully soon to prove it at the NBA level … but must grow defensively …

  • Bill-in-Tokyo

    @VOS the Thunder need a center PDQ. Any trade possibilities here for the Suns?

  • Azbballfan

    I just read on that Len has only been cleared to play 5 on 5 Ball since late September

    he is going to be rusty after what 7 months of inactivity?

    i am not going to worry about what Len does the 1st two years

    if we get to year 3 and he looks totally lost out there and doesnt make a contribution to the team, then i would be worried

    but he seems like he will learn like everyone else

    he is in a great situation with the NBA scarce with elite centers

    and the Suns in clear rebuild mode

    i dont expect him to be Shaq, but Roy Hibbert seems like a good comparison

    and it took Hibbert a while to establish himself

    his rookie year? 14 minutes a game 7 points and 3 boards and a block

    a year later? 12 and 6

    next year, 13 and 7

    last year 13 and 9 with 2 blocks a game

    big game take longer to develop and only the most elite can come in and make a difference right away

    the only trade that i can see working that does not involve kendrick perkins

    is Hasheem Thabeet, Perry Jones, and Thabo Stefalosha to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat

    i would do that trade

    if i couldnt wrangle a 2014 pick from somebody

  • eric

    we’re more athletic and that’s a plus. meanwhile, i’m tracking Mclemore in Sac cuz I think we passed up a pure shooter. haven’t jumped on the Len wagon but i’ll give him time.

  • SkyBill40

    @ AZ: I would have preferred they take McLemore; however, seeing they’re in official yet un-official tank mode for a shot at Wiggins, having McLemore might screw up their chances and seeing how he plays the same position could create more problems.

    I think the smartest bet is to keep Gortat and get serious. Tanking isn’t the way to go about building a team. Making good, sensible moves and having an owner wiling to do what it takes to get that talent is. Seeing how we’re saddled with Bob $arver and his thriftiness, it looks like smart moves of any kind are out of the question and tanking is the only answer.