This is how the Phoenix Suns will roll. On Wednesday, head coach Jeff Hornacek went with what all along has appeared to be the starting lineup. Goran Dragic returned from his ankle injury and started with Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat in the Suns’ 98-79 win at the Pepsi Center.
Phoenix trailed 44-39 at half and 65-60 after three before it outscored the Nuggets 38-14 in the fourth with a lineup led by Dragic, who recorded eight assists and scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.
For the second game of the second night in a row, Phoenix found itself in a dogfight for the most part. Bledsoe led Phoenix with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Gerald Green recorded his second strong outing in a row, this time off the bench. Tuesday against the Thunder, he scored 15 points and on Wednesday added 19.
Here’s what was answered of Dave Dulberg’s questions in the Suns’ final preseason game.
Is the Kendall Marshall era coming to a close?
When Hornacek was asked about swapping Ish Smith’s minutes and handing them to Kendall Marshall before the Suns left Phoenix for Denver, he went straight to wondering whether Dragic and Bledsoe would be healthy. If both were, it’d likely be hard to use a third point guard. Just that happened, as both Dragic and Bledsoe started before staggering the point guard position.
That meant neither Smith nor Marshall saw any floor time. Shannon Brown was also relegated to the bench as Dionte Christmas got some rare run, and Archie Goodwin even got on the court for a brief seven-minute stint.
Has Markieff matured?
A disappointing game by Markieff Morris on Tuesday was forgotten against Denver. Morris scored 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds. He and Gortat saw from 25-27 minutes, and interesting point to note as the regular season approaches.
Hornacek seemed set on playing Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee a great deal, and Plumlee saw quite a few minutes down the stretch.
In fact, both Plumlee and Frye could end up breathing heavily down Morris’ back this season. Hornacek is of course fond of Frye’s three-point shooting but also of Plumlee’s rim-rolling ability that will help a player like Frye get open shots. Plumlee finished with eight points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Hornacek said strong performances in the final two games by the Suns wouldn’t sway the coaching staff’s decision of who makes the teams and who falls into the regular-season rotation. Yet, Green put together another strong outing. Green brings shooting that Tucker doesn’t, but rather than Green taking Tucker’s minutes, he could eat up minutes previously occupied by Marcus Morris at small forward or Shannon Brown at shooting guard.
If anything, Green’s 3-for-3 behind the arc accounted for half of the Suns’ longballs. In the last two games, he’s hit six of the team’s 12 three-pointers. Phoenix is 6-for-46 the last two nights, which is an abysmal 26 percent.