Sacramento Kings 107, Phoenix Suns 90 – Dragic injured in sloppy loss

The Suns played their worst game of the preseason. They committed 24 turnovers and 30 personal fouls in a 107-90 defeat, but their biggest loss was an injury to starting guard Goran Dragic. Dragic severly rolled his ankle in the middle of the third quarter on a dribble drive past the Kings’ Jimmer Fredette. He was examined on the court by Head Trainer Aaron Nelson before being carried back to the locker room. He did not return to the game. As of right now, his injury is being called an ankle sprain. We will post an update as soon as we know more.

The Suns began the game with what projected to be their opening day starting five of Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Markieff Morris, P.J. Tucker, and Marcin Gortat. The first reserves off the bench were Alex Len for Gortat, Marcus Morris for Tucker, and Shannon Brown for Goran Dragic. As soon as the starters went to the bench, the Suns early lead evaporated as they finished the first quarter trailing Sacramento by seven points. Though the Suns would keep the score close until the fourth period, they were never really in a position to win this game.

Phoenix’s woes started with DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings big man played up to every dollar of his new contract, finishing with 29 points and nine boards in just 27 minutes of work. Cousins abused every one of the Suns’ big men, shooting nearly 60% from the field and earning 18 trips to the free throw line. Alex Len was by far his favorite victim. The rookie’s defensive ineptitude was highlighted on a play when Cousins spun past him on the block and finished with a reverse jam and the foul. Marcin Gortat was far more effective against the man they call Boogie, but even he was made to look foolish on a few plays.

Phoenix’s second biggest lapse was against Jimmer Fredette. Fredette looked like he was back at BYU in this game. He dominated the ball, showed off his ridiculous range, and wasn’t afraid to penetrate and finish at the rim. He ended the night 5-of-9 from downtown for 23 points while also dishing out five dimes. Fredette wasn’t getting his points by moving without the ball or dazzling the home crowd with crossovers. Most of his threes came off simple pick and rolls which the Suns looked completely lost defending. With so much youth on the roster, defense is going to be a work in progress all season in Phoenix.

Before Dragic went down, he and Bledsoe looked fairly out of sync. So far this preseason when they are on the floor together, it looks as though Bledsoe is playing more of the point guard role with Dragic playing off the ball. But when he played with the reserves, Dragic was definitely running the offense and distributing. Goran is talented and smart enough player to wear two hats throughout the game, but I think he will need more time to get used to this new dual role. As of right now, neither he nor Bledsoe looks settled. They combined for 10 turnovers in this game.

There were a few bright spots for Phoenix however. Dragic and Bledsoe were 8-of-10 on two-point attempts. Though Sacramento is by no means a good defensive team, both guys had open driving lanes and were able to convert when they got into the paint. A big part of the Suns’ offense this season will be predicated on these two being able to penetrate, score, and dish in traffic, so barring Dragic’s injury being major, tonight was definitely a good sign. The other offensive high point was Marcin Gortat. The Polish Hammer was excellent on the baseline tonight. His jumper was silky and his spin move left DeMarcus Cousins looking dazed more than once. So long as the increased frontcourt depth and ever-present lineup fluctuation don’t get in Gortat’s head, I think it’s safe to say he back to being 2011-12 Marcin in terms of his scoring confidence.

Cousins didn’t play much in the second half. He looked a bit hobbled after former teammate Eric Bledsoe drew a colossal charge on him in the third quarter that left both players sprawling. Bledsoe hopped right up afterwards, looking no worse for the wear, but Cousins, who had 23 of his 29 points in the first half, didn’t look right after that. The two jawed with one another throughout the game.

The only good news for the Suns overall is that their place in the Western Conference cellar seems safe for now. The Kings aren’t great, but with DeMarcus playing the way he did tonight, it would be hard for them not to win 30 games. This year is still a rebuilding year for the Suns, a team with a ton of youth and a brand new coach. There are going to be growing pains all year that look a lot like tonight’s final score. But so long as Coach Hornacek can turn 17-point losses at the Sleep Train Arena into teaching moments, the Suns will continue to improve and make the slow climb back towards contention.

And 1

  1. Miles Plumlee looks far more developed at both ends of the floor than Alex Len. Though Len is a much bigger investment for the Suns, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Plumlee steal minutes from him early in the season.
  2. Markieff Morris led the Suns in points and rebounds, though his performance did not  rise above the din of Phoenix’s struggles in this game. His shot selection looks like it has improved, and he’s playing with the same confidence he did this summer in Las Vegas. His brother Marcus finished the game 0-for-5, and seems to be still searching for his role.


Tags: Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Recaps Sacramento Kings

  • hawki

    If this is any indication of how things are then it’s gonna be a REALLY long year.
    Marcus Morris bragging about his shooting prowess, then going 0 for 5…..Frye 0-5 also…Len slapped around by Cousins…team 3-18 from 3pt land….lit up by Jimmer….ugh.

    from previous article….was that the real EBJM ?….our long lost Vegas Insider ?

  • Sillmarillion

    Oh man, Len vs Cousins was really, really sad to watch…
    And then you lose Dragic in such a meaningless game.
    Not a good night for the Suns after all.

  • Azbballfan

    There are a couple of bright spots i can point out

    Len had some good moments in the game in his 12 minutes, he got several tip outs to create additional possessions,i thought he did well a couple of times in forcing Cousins to take bad shots

    Len seems to be able to play defense without fouling

    The refs were pretty terrible in this game, and rookies usually do not get calls, so oh well

    Markieff Morris has had a better than expected pre season so far

    Plumlee seems to go hard after rebounds, which is great the Suns have been terrible at rebounding for years and years, even when we were good

    everyone has bad games in this league so im not worried about Len long term

    i also expect Len to get more than 15 minutes a game

    the roster isnt set for a few more weeks, so Hornacek has to figure out who is going to make the team

    its gonna be hard if your a bubble player since you gotta come in and be effective in sometimes very limited minutes

    Len and Goodwin will learn and eventually work out

    Go Suns

  • DBreezy

    On some level it probably was a bad night, but then again it also likely was a taste of what’s to come as most nights the Suns will simply be outmatched talent and BB IQ wise from the jump.

    I say this not having seen any of the games, but so far it looks like the ‘winners’ of the preseason have been the coaching staff and Plumlee. Frye is obviously the feel good story, but he’s not really ready yet. Plumule seems to have worked himself from nothing last season to a rotation player and the coaching staff seems to be doing a good job and is well received by the players thus far.

    Most other things still seem to be in flux. They’ve hinted that Kieff is starting 4 by default more than anything and Horny has said that both the 3 and the 4 positions could see nightly starting lineup changes based on matchups. While such things bode well in the quest for a top 5 pick, I’m sure they were hoping that the Morris’ boys and/or Marshall would separate themselves a bit in camp vs the other guys they have on the roster. Along the same lines, I’m betting they were hoping for the same from Bledsoe as well who hasn’t done anything wrong but hasn’t given any indication yet that he’ll be a star. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of Goran this preseason so Bledsoe should get a nice confidence boost being them solo point in the next game.

  • Scott

    Hopefully Dragic gets his rest now, while recuperating.

    If Plumlee is up for extension, I’d extend him. And if Bledsoe will accept an extension, I’d extend him. I don’t know about the rest of the guys, as they haven’t even shown the promise of being dependable bench players.

    Kravtsov has seen little time for a guy who had a PER of 14 last year. I guess Hornacek can’t find a role for him.

  • Azbballfan

    I agree with you Scott

    Plumlee seems to have progressed from fringe NBA player to quality backup guy

    Kravtsov is also better than he is playing and the minutes he is getting right now as well

    but, there are only so many spots on the team

    really, a coach is gonna play really 8, maybe 9 guys in the regular season

    So thats, Dragic, Bledsoe, Tucker, Markieff, and Gortat with Marcus, Kendall Marshall, and Len comming off the bench

    unless Bledsoe demands something like a max deal, give him an extension and see if he works out

    if not, hey theres a trade chip right there

    its never a bad thing to 2 trade chips and the 2nd most cap space in the NBA right now

    we have something like 9 new players this year, its gonna take a while

    for everyone to find their stride, especially the rookies

  • EBJM

    Hi Hawki & foreveris2long, it is the original EBJM. I was surfing and noticed your posts and missed you guys. Our relationship has lasted longer than my two previous marriages and has been significantly cheaper!

    The staff writers here are way too pessemistic for my tastes so I’m warning everbody now that my posts will lean towards blatant homerism which I will not apologize for so please keep your responses civil.

    The Suns have played exceptional the past four games and I’m not declaring the season lost because the moody Cousins had a monster game. The Kings have gambled their future by building around the 23 year old center who is now in his 4th season. He has been a oroblem child and Malone has his hands full, They traded their other star Tyreke Evans to make Cousins happy and now have Grevis Vasquez running the show. Grevis is a great facilitator but is lacking athleticism so the Kings appear to be best suited for a Pacers style halfcourt game.

    Fredette has been somwhat disappointing thus far and if the Kings are relying on him to make up for the loss of Evans the Kings aren’t going anywhere. Alex Len is a project, we all know that. For that reason alone Kratsov should be kept. Plumlee also provides needed size and atleticism at the 4 and with Frye and Markief provides three distinctively different looks.

    Same thing at SF. Tucker along with Dragic and Bledsoe should provide excellent perimeter defense and guys that do get in the lane should be routinely rejected as Gortat, Plumlee,& Kratsov are able rejectors and Len should be able to follow suit quickly enough. Then for bench scoring at SF Marcus or Gerald Green should occasionally have big nights.

    Some seem to forget that Hornacek was the starting SG & West the starting center on that quickly rebuilt Suns team that rose from the ashes of the Walter Davis cocaine disaster.of course KJ set the bar extremely high for Bledsoe and there currently aren’t any Suns player like the in his prime Tom Chambers, but these current Suns have great chemistry and will rely on a different players nightly.

    There are only six teams that one can say easily are locks for playoff spots. I see the Blazers, Pelicans, Wolves and Suns contending for that eight spot. Those other three appear stronger than
    Phoenix but they have their weaknesses and in recent years have had their problems.I’m sorry, the Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Mavericks, & Nuggets all suck and simply refuse to admit it.

    Those six teams that are clear favorites all have flaws. Jared Dudley might be the Clippers starting SF. The alternative is former Sun Matt Barnes. Enough said. Houston does not have a legitimate PF and Jeremy Lin is below average outside of SSOL. Thunder sorely miss James Harden and don’t even have Kevin Martin. Warriors start David Lee who cannot stop any player. Bogut has yet to regain his pre-injury form. Iggy is overrated. Spurs Duncan is 37 Ithink. Father time stops for no one. Ginobili is finished. Grizzlies cannot afford a SF or SG. Z-Bo is starting to decline and with Allen and Prince teams can double and triple Z-Bo.

    So there you have it, until the Suns start losing when it counts, GO SUNS!

  • Al

    Phoenix has bad/weak low post defenders. All of them, including Gortat (Polish Pillow), play soft on defense. I remember an announcer in the Portland game talking about how the Suns should fire their Strength and Conditioning coach.

  • peter

    There was one interesting dunk attempt from Gortat, something like Durant often does. Maybe it’s a sign of a more athletic play from Gortat in coming season.

  • Azbballfan

    I consider myself to be a realist

    it would take a miracle, and hurt this team in the draft, for them to make the playoffs in the brutal west

    i forgot all about Goodwin in my previous post

    a few more practice game to go before they start counting

    hopefully we can figure out who wants Gortat so we can give plumlee and len and possibly kravtsov some minutes

    Len may look sort of lost out there, but thats why you gotta play him minutes

    as soon as the roster is finalized, i expect goodwin and len to get more than 15 minutes a game

    you dont spent 1st round draft picks and give guys guaranteed money to play 15 minutes a game on a rebuilding club

    looking forward to the season!

    go suns!

  • EBJM

    Wow, a Blazer troll! So are you referring to last seasons Suns rout of the Blazers 114-87 behind Gortat’s 11-14 shooting for 22 points in only three quarters or were you talking about this preseasons 104-98 Suns victory over the Blazers when Gortat was a +20 while on the court for only 20 minutes?

    FYI Gortat tested out as one of the elite athletes at the pre-draft camp and spent years battling Howard in practice. He is the son of an Olympic Silver medal winning boxer and his brother is a professional boxer. There is a difference between being soft and playing soft.

    But the botton line is the ONLY logical deduction that can be made from the FACTS that I posted is that the Blazer low post defenders must all be pussies.

  • hawki

    @ EBJM

    Good to see ya old buddy….there are a lot of good posters on this board.
    When I read your 1st post I wasn’t sure if it was you because of the supposed homerism…..figured you would say this team is going 0-82….LOL

    btw…..DBreezy = David1787

  • EBJM

    Hawki I love the firing off Blanks and the hiring of Ryan McDonald. He in turn made two sweet deals that I liked and has given the team an actual plan.So I’m happy with the new 180* direction and honesty think Hornacek & staff will do wonders and the so-called experts are wrong.

    I mean seriously, how are the Jazz projected as being better when Haywood is the only proven starter and even with that he is still only an average player?

    Dragic had improved enough that Houston wanted to re-sign him but were waiting for Howard to sign and Phoenix swooped in and stole him. Bledsoe was sought after but I’m sure the Rivers-Celtic connection brought him to Phoenix. Gortat is on par with Deandre Jordan with Howard, M.Gasol, Cousins, & Pekovic the only centers that are clearly better.

    With Phoenix being historically a centerless and finesse franchise I love the additions of Len & Kratsov. Of course they are currently Nesteroviv 2.0 but hey they are tall and athletic. Plumlee loks to be Kris Humphries 2.0 and he was a rebounding and inside physical prescence.

    If they end up in the lottery, oh well, they add a SG or SF. They will get the Pacers late 1st rd pick and the Wolves if they make the playoffs. Now what happens with Gortat if the Suns have a great 1st half of the season? If they trade him regardless it might destroy team chemistry as looking like they are intentionally tanking and I don’t think the new G.M. is wired that way and I don’t think it would sit well with the coaching staff.

    Then you have to wonder if Sarver would be willing to give up the extra millions from a playoff appearance. Suns are going to be fun to watch especially if they win because of the lottery drama.

  • Smovas


  • EBJM

    So is everybody here?

  • DBreezy

    Whatup EBJM and Smov? I think the gang is pretty much all here, although I’m pretty sure Bucky is still lurking around AZC spreading love. Just in time for another season of fun!

    signed artist formerly known as David1787

    PS. EBJM if Butler shows up are you going to can the homerism and go ‘fair and balanced’? :)

  • Mike

    Bledsoe wont be a starm solid player….but no star, he has too many holes in his game.

  • Azbballfan

    Gortat is in the last year of his contract

    we just spent the 5th overall pick on Alex Len

    it makes no sense for us to resign Gortat to an extension with Len waiting in the wings

    if Gortat has a great 1st half, thats awesome, he will be shipped to a team that wants him

    I think McDonaugh built this team for the future, and to develop players this year before a critical 2014 draft

    i dont think he cares how many times we lose if the team is playing hard and young players that are the future of the team are getting quality minutes

    i would rather have a young, potentially exciting team in a few years, then with Lance Blanks “never blow it up, stay the course and be mediocre for the forseable future” plan

    i loved all the moves the Suns made over the summer

    just ship out Gortat, give Goodwin and Len quality minutes and hope that minny makes the playoffs and nothing happens to the pacers

    keeping gortat makes no sense long term

    not when you just spent a top 5 draft pick to replace him

  • EBJM

    I understand Gortat won’t be here next season, the decision is do they trade him at mid-season and take back salary and probally another 1sr rd pick OR do they just wait until seasons end and either let him walk and get way under the salary cap or do a sign and trade.

    My point about the losing is only if the Suns force it by dumping Gortat at mid-season even though they are winning. None of us mind losing this way because of the lottery pick BUT what if they aren’t losing? Do you push them towards tanking by dumping Gortat?

  • DBreezy

    While the first twenty games of the season are a traditional measuring point for teams used by many including me, I tend to thnk a lot of things will be clear about this team within the first month. It’s a young team that has roughly half of its games on the road the first month, where young teams tend to struggle mightily especially early on. Two of the three starting positions have already been declared by Horny to be by committee and there’s reason to believe that the current 10 man rotation will go 11 deep some nights, possibly even 12. I understand why, but that’s a lot of moving parts and there will likely be some uneven nights because of it.

    So when it comes to things like Gortat’s status vs the team’s performance at the deadline I tend to think they’ll be out of it by then and there will be no thought of keeping him beyond season’s end. In fact I think the Suns are at least listening for a trade before the season starts. Same goes for Marshall and the twins which is a factor in why there hasn’t been any movement on their options so far.

    Practically speaking there is close to zero chance of Marcin being moved because he’s not accepting an extension and we’ll get to see how he handles things. Same for Brown who will likely find himself out of or on the fringe of the rotation in a month or so. I doubt McD is terribly interested in taking back any long term money so if the deal isn’t right both guys may be here all year long in roles that are quite uncomfortable for them if the potential cap space proves more valuable than the offers.

  • DBreezy


    What exactly would define a great first half for Marcin with respect to his trade value? If we’re talking about his offensive numbers going back up to the Nash days that’s hard for me to see. As far as the team goes, they’ll be fine as long as he brings consistent effort on both ends, but I don’t know if that will result in much of a numbers change because of the parts surrounding Marcin goes. The Suns are an inconsistent 3pt and long J shooting team so expect teams to go under S/R and to pinch the paint allowing pretty much anybody not named Frye to shoot.

  • Ty-Sun

    Trading Gortat (or not) very much depends on the situation during the season and what is being offered for him. I’d rather the Suns keep him until the end of the season and hopefully work out a sign and trade deal than not get any real value back for him in a trade. If someone offers a super deal for him then the Suns should make the trade even if they are winning more than expected.

    There are so many factors that it’s way to early for me to say what should happen with Gortat yet. I’m content to trust that McD will do what’s best for the team whether that means a trade or keeping Gortat for the whole season and try for a sign and trade deal.

  • EBJM

    David my homerism could never match Butler’s even if I trully believed what I was posting. I might be leaning a bit too much towards homerism today because my basketball instincts have been disrespected by the total lack of love the country has shown the Suns while showing so much of it for marginal and bad teams.

    Bucks, Wizards, Raptor, Jazz, Pistons fans, etc all sincerely believe they have playoff teams.

    Homerism is running amok throughout the league! I have a moral and ethical duty to fight for Phoenix right up to the night of the bouncing ping pong balls!

  • DBreezy


    I’m all good with your fight, no one could match Butler. He, VT, and SueB will all be missed during these times although I believe the latter two made a post or two early last year so perhaps they’re still lurking.

    There is certainly no love for the Suns, but I kind of take it as a backhanded compliment. This has been such a strong franchise for so long, how it got to where it is now was bound to get a negative reaction. Much more so than say the Twolves, who’s run with KG has to date been a blip in the course of the franchise.

    It’s the same reason that unreasonable hopes for the Lakers franchise continued to be piled on by ESPN and others. If they manage to get that unit into the playoffs it’s a good season for them, but you know we’ll hear about more and continual Jim/Jeannie/Phil/MDA drama.

    I’m actually looking forward to LP this season as I have low expectations of the Suns W/L wise so I’ll just be looking at a lot of young teams to see how they improve. There should be a few good playoff races at the bottom of both conferences with young teams.

  • Azbballfan

    an excellent 1st half of the season for Gortat?

    well if he plays 30 minutes a game i would say 13 and 9 with a block?

    obviously if his individual season is awful well then his trade value is shot

    i think we are just going to have to wait and see what hornacek does with the rotations

    draft night 2013 was really the night we should have traded him but oh well

    if a trade comes along that doesnt involve a future pick and a young prospect, i say let him walk away at seasons end and use the cap space

  • foreveris2long

    EBJM, Man I cannot believe you resurfaced. I am still looking for you in Las Vegas. I was out of the loop yesterday so now is the 1st chance I had to check the Suns board. The board is not complete with new talent and good veteran input.

    I will check back later tonight, gotta run. It will be a fun season watching guys grow and scouting the college field.

  • DBreezy


    I would probably come up with something similar for an excellent first half and I think those numbers would be a great contribution to the team but I don’t think they will move his trade value much off what it is now. He was basically 11 and 9 last season on 52% shooting and it was roundly considered a disappointment compared to the previous season.

    I don’t think 13 and 9 will change that much, especially since he isn’t a game changer defensively. I agree that he should have been moved by draft day, but from what I’ve seen from McD my bet is that he tried hard and just couldn’t come up with an acceptable deal. Everybody knows the guy is on the block, yet you don’t hear even a whisper of an interested team. Part of it is extension issues, but part of it is likely that defense. He’s a strong rebounder and isn’t a weak defender, but he’s not the kind of guy that’s gonna be a stopper vs a Howard, Duncan, Hibbert, or even DMC. and he’s not an intimidating help defender like a Noah, KG, etc. Add in the fact that he’s a solid scorer, but primarily off S/R’s and you can see why people want him but aren’t falling over themselves to bid.

  • foreveris2long

    I meant to say above “The board is now complete…”
    Gortat looks more aggressive offensively so I am optimistic his trade value will improve from what is was this past summer.