Phoenix Suns 106, San Antonio Spurs 99 — Prodding the lineups

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek isn’t rushing a finished product. During the regular season, there likely won’t be any panic either considering this team could look very different next season. So in a 106-99 victory at San Antonio that moved the Phoenix Suns to 3-0 in the preseason, the first-year head coach continued to prod the lineup.

Archie Goodwin and Gerald Green started Sunday alongside Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris. Hornacek gave Dionte Christmas and James Nunnally run in the first half and didn’t play Kendall Marshall or Channing Frye until the second. It was all about feeling out different lineups.

Green scored 19 points, hit 8-of-15 shots and looked comfortable scoring off the dribble by hitting pull-up, midrange jumpers. P.J. Tucker and Dionte Christmas added 14 points each off the bench as the only other Suns to score in double-figures. Tucker looked keen on shooting jumpers without second-guessing himself, and Christmas showed why the Suns gave him a partially-guaranteed contract offer.

Did Sunday’s game against the Spurs answer any questions?

How do the Suns handle Tony Parker with the revamped roster?

We didn’t get to find out. Dragic was the starting point guard and was joined by Goodwin in the starting lineup. Parker went 5-of-9 for 11 points in 17 minutes and didn’t play in the second half.

For the second game in a row, Dragic and Eric Bledsoe staggered their minutes at point guard. Dragic played just eight minutes and didn’t make any of his three attempts but had two assists. Bledsoe had another poor shooting game, going 3-for-11 from the field for the second game in a row. His jump-shooting consistency might be a question as teams play off him when he works on pick-and-rolls. Like he did against Portland a few days ago, Bledsoe seemed hesitant to pull the trigger when teams sagged in order to keep him from attacking the paint.

Speaking of matchups, how do the Suns attack the San Antonio post players?

Hornacek’s most consistent decision throughout Sunday’s win was with the frontcourt players.

He especially used the duo of Alex Len and Miles Plumlee together. Both players had two blocks, and Len didn’t look too exposed against Tim Duncan for spurts. Phoenix’s rookie center led the team with 25 minutes and grabbed eight rebounds while going 3-for-6 in the paint.

Though Len moves awkwardly at this point, it’s clear his length is his biggest asset. He gets bumped off his post position easier but was able to flip in hook shots despite being off balance.

Starting at center, Gortat made the most of his 17 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing seven boards. His three assists were a sign that he’s quite capable of passing out of the post well.

Does James Nunnally have a shot at making the roster?

It was interesting that Hornacek mixed in Goodwin into the starting lineup, but it was also of note that the Suns coach played Nunnally and Christmas with players that will likely be in the regular rotation. Nunnally hit 1-of-3 shots in 14 minutes, but Christmas did his best to prove he’s the better scoring threat.

Christmas came out guns blazing and hit 3-of-4 threes and 4-of-6 shots overall. It seems likely Phoenix wants to add another shooter to the roster heading into the regular season. Shooting, after all, is the team’s one weakness outside of outright talent.

  • foreveris2long

    I have always been of the mindset that if either Green or Plumlee gets in the rotation, along with the assumption Len and Goodwin were worthy of where they were selected, this past summer with the addition of Bledsoe and another 2014 1st round pick, will be one to remember. I definitely like Coach’s experiment using Plumlee and Len together.

  • Azbballfan

    Solid game from Len

    6 points, 9 boards, 2 blocks is solid for 25 minutes

    i think Plumlee is better than people give him credit for as well

    Suns play Tuesday against Clips

    Green had a great game

    i am hoping he is able to do well with the Suns

    his game may not be polished but this team is trying to figure out who they want for a future team

    might as well play people and see who pans out

  • Scott

    Christmas is playing like he wants it. But his scoring history shows a lot of streakiness. Probably a better indication of who is playing best between Nunnally and Christmas would be a defensive measurement. If Christmas is winning that battle as well, then he should get the nod.

    The Suns have won 3 games, but I don’t know if anyone will bother scouting them until they win a regular season game. Once proper scouting occurs, then we’ll see what we’ve got.

  • HankS

    The SF situation is becoming interesting, with Green, PJ and Marcus all playing decently. Will perhaps PJ with his micro-contract become a trade-bait down the road? I can’t imagine a contender that wouldn’t long for a utra-cheap defensive stopper like him…

  • hawki

    Can’t believe this game was not on NBA TV….not even a replay.
    Hard to get a feel for who’s doing what without seeing actual game action.

  • Azbballfan

    I hear ya Hawki

    i bought NBA League Pass for the 1st time ever the other day

    i used to watch all the games until they moved the games to cable tv instead of regular tv

    i havent had a tv that actually works in years and i couldnt see well enough for the last few years to make it worth watching a suns game

    but i finally got eye surgery on both eyes done

    now i am gonna watch every game this season, i am so excited

  • Foreveris2long

    Azball, Suns should be worth watching this year so great to hear you had successful eye surgery.

    Hawk I definitely hear ya about Suns not being televised yesterday on NBA tv. However I checked and the game v Clippers Tuesday night will be televised in So. California so I will finally get to see the boys in pre-season. I guess when and if the Suns become more popular Sarver will get TV deals that will allow all of the Suns games to be televised even pre-season games.

  • peter

    there are online streaming of preseason games or you can download from torrent trackers the day after in better quality

  • Sillmarillion

    When Plumlee and Len are playing together who of them is at the 4 then?
    Why was wrong with Dragic?

    P.S. You could have won a lot of money if you had bet that Gortat led the Suns in assists ;)

  • Lance

    I’m assuming the Suns staff is taking it easy on Goran since he just completed a tough Eurobasket Tournament…..Dragic expended a lot of energy in that Tourney.

  • Pingback: Preview: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns