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.
Thank you is all I can say. Thank you for everything It seemed that tonight was so far away and y'all helped me get here with your love.
— Channing Frye (@Channing_Frye) October 10, 2013
— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) October 10, 2013
It was so good to see @Channing_Frye back in the businss!!!!!:))))) my man!!!!!
— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) October 10, 2013
@Channing_Frye congrats darsh. That's pretty amazing. God is good. You still smell like horse poop.
— Josh Childress (@JChillin) October 10, 2013
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.