Clippers 102, Suns 96 -- Welcome back comeback

PHOENIX — After falling behind, making a comeback and then pushing for a last-minute rally with a unit of scrubs, the Phoenix Suns fell 102-96 to the Los Angeles Clippers and dropped to to 3-1 in the preseason Tuesday.

The return of former Suns coach Alvin Gentry was a weird one.

Leading the Suns, Goran Dragic scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and mostly played off the ball. His set three-pointers looked especially clean as he hit all four attempts from beyond the arc.

Bledsoe recorded seven assists and was quiet shooting the ball. He had four steals and multiple deflections but at times looked unsure in his decision-making on offense. On one play, Bledsoe pushed a break with Clippers ahead of him but didn’t stop at the foul stripe and got stuck holding the ball under the cup with DeAndre Jordan all over him – Bledsoe threw it at Marcin Gortat’s legs for a turnover.

It was just one sign of how far Bledsoe still has to go to become a true NBA point, and that’s forgetting his overall feel of when to push and when to set up the offense.

So, were any of Dave Dulberg’s pregame questions answered?

Does Jeff Hornacek let Eric Bledsoe start on the man he backed up for three seasons, Chris Paul?

Bledsoe saw time against Paul, and Goran Dragic also had a few possessions against the Clippers point guard. Neither did a very good job. Paul’s protege ripped him with four minutes left in the first quarter for a fastbreak layup – that was after Paul had hit five of his first seven shots and already scored 13.

Before the game, Hornacek said the Suns will perhaps run with the mishmash of lineups for one more game, against Sacramento, before settling in with rotation players.

The Suns started Miles Plumlee and James Nunnally alongside Marcin Gortat, Dragic and Bledsoe. In the second half, Phoenix started Dragic, Bledsoe, Tucker, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat.

How do Suns fans handle the return of Jared Dudley?

You would’ve thought the theme of Tuesday night’s preseason game was 2010 night. Jared Dudley got his fair share of cheers as a starter for the Clippers, Lou Amundson came off the bench to the deep shouts of his first name, and Alvin Gentry began patrolling the sidelines – after halftime, Gentry actually took over head coaching duties for Los Angeles because Rivers was reportedly feeling ill.

Was it a statement? The way Gentry and his staff left the Suns, you might wonder. Dan Majerle was even sitting with Jerry Colangelo watching the game. And that’s not mentioning the other relationships between Rivers, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and Phoenix assistant Mike Longabardi.

It was just a weird night of preseason reunions.

The Suns pushed back from a 63-47 halftime deficit and held the Clippers to three points in the first seven minutes of the second half. The Suns got within three points with a regular starting unit, but the Clippers — led by Chris Paul’s 24 points and nine assists — bumped the lead to 10 points entering the fourth.

Phoenix’s bench rallied with an 11-0 run to come within one point with just more than a minute left, but the Clippers held on.

Does Channing Frye get some run against Blake Griffin?

Blake Griffin was an unofficial scratch from the game, but Frye did bait Ryan Hollins into an offensive foul on his first defensive possession. Hollins, if you remember, was the participant in last year’s late-season scuffle that also involved Dragic and Michael Beasley.

Speaking of which, Frye had another strong outing with 11 points in the first half. He did have trouble when the Clippers went ultra-small. Guarding Dudley at power forward seemed out of Frye’s wheelhouse.

Dudley finished with 12 points in his first return to U.S. Airways Center as a Clipper.

  • foreveris2long

    Starting Plumlee and Nunnally allowed the Clips to get a big lead early. I doubt Nunnally makes the team and Plumlee is average at best. Frye played much better than Plumlee when he entered the game. Bledoe and Dragic played well together. Smith played backup point guard in the 2nd quarter but was not very good. Marshall played point in some of the 4th and was better than Smith.Dragic really played well as I think he had 20 points.

    Goodwin needs a ton of work on his jumper or more game time so he feels comfortable and does not feel the need to rush his shot. Bledsoe has nice form so I think his shot will come along. Green played well. With Bledsoe and Tucker on the floor together the Suns defensive intensity is at its best. Marcus Morris also played well.

    Suns badly need another scorer and a tough and athletic power forward. Len did not play.

  • foreveris2long

    Oh yeah Gortat played pretty well as he was getting touches in the paint.

  • Mel.

    I had to really respect the fact that both Doc and Horny let their scrubs battle it out for the “W” in those last three to four minutes, even after the Suns’ huge rally: I was expecting Dragic and CP3 to come back out in the final sixty, but both teams went with the guys who’d bought the game to that turning point.

    The Clips are definitely going to be a tough out, this year. Dudley looked good, that Byron Mullins kid is sort of a Channing Frye 2.4 with a bigger frame and an equally clean three, and even Lou Amundsen was out there doing work,including scoring the momentum-breaking slam dunk that put the Suns down for good. Fun game, despite the outcome.

  • Azbballfan

    I looked around at all the game recaps and comments and i listened to the game……..

    i couldnt find any reason why alex len didnt play except one comment for 3 seconds by al mccoy that len had a sore ankle and that it was nothing serious

    anyone know anything else?

    Yeah, Nunnally, Smith and Kravtsov are likely going to get cut based on how much they have played

    Christmas will be the one camp invite that sticks

    Plumlee will make it because he is athletic, busts his butt in practice, and Hornacek seems to like him

    i also think Green will stick because we need someone to play at the 3 should an injury happen, and tucker just isnt a good enough shooter at this point

    I hear we are going into regular rotation mode on Thursday at Sacramento

    im looking forward to Len being back

  • Scott

    Why didn’t Hornacek put Marcus Morris on Dudley? That seems like the logical play to make. Oh well.

    @forever -

    I haven’t seen any of the games, but I’d expect Frye to be much better than Plumlee … better in almost every way, except perhaps athleticism. As I see it, Plumlee is just better than people thought he was, and he has some potential; he’s not really an accomplished center yet.

    Plumlee may get better as time goes by, if his motor + IQ leads to constant development, as was the case with Dudley.

    Nunnally has been a surprise to me. I’m not sure what people are expecting him to do, but the reports on him have been universally bad. Based on his stats and scouting, my impression is that he is a Tucker type player who works hard on defense and scores a small but efficient number of points, and some of those points come from high percentage 3s. I guess he’s not doing that …?


    The Suns are going to lose as many games as predicted in the regular season.Young hungry players do well in pre-season but not when the stakes are raised in the regular.This year finally the front office is shooting straighter with the fans.Im going to enjoy the season because we have direction for the future that i can trust..let the chips fall where they may….go suns


    @ azballfan …i found this article about alex lens new ankle problem…the site also has a weird story about a coach getting upset with archie goodwin

  • Harry

    Scott, I think that Marcus was on Duds when he went off in 2Q. I’m going to wathc again and will confirm if someone doesn’t first.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Nunally is released today. Teams will often start a guy in preseason before releasing him to confirm their thoughts.

    Bledsoe really has a loooong ways to go on offense. He’s also not very good at pushing pace. He needs to pass more.

    I can’t see Gerald Green making the rotation.

    Overall, I liked what I saw when the regulars were in. A starting line-up of Dragic, Bledsoe, Frye, Gortat and Tucker will be pretty tough.

  • foreveris2long

    Scott, I agree Frye will be the starting power forward.IMO Plumlee is just an ok power forward who will get pushed for minutes at the 4 by Markieff Morris who is also nothing special. Plumlee will get some backup center minutes early but probably by midseason I suspect those minutes will go to Len assuming he is healthy.

    I am not that high on Nunnally. Although he is a good shooter IMO he does not have that take over a game, cold blooded killer attitude that Christmas has. Like Harry I think he will be cut this week with Smith.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Alex Len feels some pain in his ankles and the Suns staff says that they pushed himm too hard. That’s bad news. If the preseason is too much for him then what about 82 regular season games?

  • HunterSThompson

    My feeling all along is that the Suns should basically sit Len for the season and let those ankles really heal up and get stronger. Keep Kravstov and Plumlee on the roster with Gortat and be ready to make some noise with a healthy Len (and high draft picks) next season. Pushing him in a meaningless season is short-sighted and just plain dumb.

  • ward

    I watched a Kentucky practice, and I think (I know everyone will disagree with me) Julius Randle will fit the Suns style of play better than Andrew Wiggins, but I know the world thinks Wiggins is the second coming…

  • DBreezy


    If Kieff can’t beat out Frye returning from a year off to be the starter, then there’s no way they should pick up his 4th year. In other news, until that other site, gets a bit more of a quantifiable track record I’d be hesitant to fully buy in on what they say. Len’s ankles could have in fact been sore, or the team could have elected to sit him as a precaution without any symptoms because he’s only been playing for a few weeks now.

  • Kevin

    What did you guys think about Kendall Marshall’s performance last night?

  • Ty-Sun

    It seems logical to assume that Nunnally, Smith and Lee will be cut soon but I can come up with reasons to keep everyone else on the roster. Since I doubt the Suns will keep a full 15 man roster going into the season, it will be interesting to see who else is cut.

    If Len’s ankles are bothering him and the Suns are planing on trading Gortat as soon as they can find a good deal, Kravtsov might be a keeper. If a deal comes sooner than expected for Gortat and Len isn’t able to play then the Suns would have to start either Frye or Plumlee at the 5 with the other playing backup.

    Christmas may be a streaky shooter but when he’s “on” he’s can be a big threat. But he will mostly have to fight Goodwin and Brown for backup minutes. Frankly, I’d rather the Suns cut Brown and keep Christmas although I don’t think they will do it.

  • Ty-Sun

    @ward – I don’t disagree with you. I’ve already stated here that I think the Suns should keep an eye on Randle (which I’m certain that McD will do). By the end of the collage season, there is no telling who will shine the brightest and actually be the top pick in next year’s draft. Wiggins is just the early favorite. Last year around this time there were a lot of people here singing the praises of Shabazz Muhammad and hoping that the Suns would get the chance to draft him… but no one seemed disappointed that the Suns passed on him when draft night finally came.

  • .

    OMB…Alvin Gentry was able to close out a game!!!

  • .

    OMG…Alvin Gentry was able to close out a game!!!

  • Ty-Sun

    @Kevin – So far, Marshall hasn’t significantly outplayed Ish Smith in the preseason. Since Marshal was Blanks’ choice and not one of McD’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Suns don’t pick up his option for next season. They probably will do it but I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t.

    And on another note, I expect the Suns to pick up the options on the Morris twins this year but unless they show significant improvement this season the Suns will not make qualifying offers to them next season.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    As for that site Shazam linked up, take that for whatever you want…something tells me it’s not anyone affiliated with any major media organization. And the Len news is not much for sneaky reporting.

    Len said his ankle was aching after the last preseason home game and said his doctors told him it might hurt because of the surgery. So I wouldn’t make much of Len missing the game other than the staff holding him out so he doesn’t push himself too hard in a meaningless game. You know, when you go under the knife stuff is bound to hurt.

  • DBreezy

    Good stuff Zimmerman. I’m pretty sure some of us around here could come up with even better speculation than that site, but it’s just that, and therefore belongs where we post it.

  • Foreveris2long

    DBreezy, place me in the camp that the Suns should not pick up his 4th year. I like Marcus better than Markieff because Marcus can play the 3 spot. They may pick up the option on both but I think that decision will be promoted more by making both Marcus and Markieff happy as opposed to talent.


    @ kevin z if you knew about the ankle problem why didnt you report it until now?what is sneaky about a site that reports what you know before you do?.if its not credible (even though they got it right) then report this stuff so we dont have to rely on other sites..i did a deep search because azballfan mentioned it and it piqued my curiosity..and that was the only site that covered it..along with other stuff..the premise of the site is credible but unlikely..ill give you that..but you cant find their stories anywhere else..i know im a junky.

  • EBJM

    Suns have enough talent, size, depth to earn the 8th playoff spot, Hornacek, West and Sichting are all NBA over-achievers and you can see it already in the fantastic team chemistry. Suns have never won the #1 overall draft pick so forget about Wiggins. We lost out on Abdul-Jabbar then David Robinson. So don’t hold your breath.

    Suns will meet their nemisis the Spurs in the 1st rd will out-run them while using all of their tall bigs to harass Duncan into an upset. Unfortunately they then meet the Thunder and have no answer for Durant who carries them past the Suns and into the WCFs to face the Clippers who were taken to seven games by the Warriors.

    The Clippers prevail to meet the Pacers in the Finals where Hibbert, West and Scola neutralize Griffen and win the title.

    Remember Hibbert? Suns passed on him for Robin Lopez who is now on his 3rd team but he is still starting.

    Must be making Foreveris2long proud!


    @ebjm hahahaha love it

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