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.