Preview: Phoenix Suns (5-4) vs. Sacramento Kings (2-7)


Time: 8 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

Suns

Suns

Kings

Kings

After starting off the season with a win against the Denver Nuggets, the Sacramento Kings have been in a free fall, their inertia only being altered by a victory against a struggling Brooklyn Nets team. The Kings have lost seven of their last eight, and they’ve already reached the point of talking about effort being the issue. As bad as the Suns were last season, it took quite a while for that to become a recurring theme.

Sacramento’s offense has been short of average, and the defense has done nothing to keep coach Mike Malone’s team in games. Only one game out of the Kings’ seven losses has been a two-possession game or less.

So in our book, Phoenix should be considered the favorite on the road Tuesday night. After falling two games in a row and in painful fashion at that, forward P.J. Tucker said on Friday after losing to the Nets that he wished the Suns played a game Saturday. Maybe the pent up frustration will do the Suns some good. That’s not to mention Phoenix could benefit from a good deal of time off used to fix the offensive woes it exhibited in the last few games.

Will Ben McLemore make Suns fans complain about Alex Len?

If I may, let’s get one thing out of the way. It’s fine to worry about Alex Len’s health, but it’s not fine to call the Suns’ draft pick a huge flub-up because fellow rookie Ben McLemore, who the Suns could have drafted instead, goes off for 25 points on Tuesday. The reason NBA teams favor big men: Their impact goes beyond the flash and it goes beyond their scoring output. You can have a guy scoring 25 points per game on a bad team, but it doesn’t have the impact that even a raw Len could have if he played 15 minutes per. Now, that’s only if Len can get back on the court from his injury issues.

Example: Kings center DeMarcus Cousins may be averaging 21 points and nine rebounds a game, but until he decides to become a rock in the middle, Sacramento ain’t going anywhere.

So feel free to worry about Len and his health. Just don’t do so citing any big game by McLemore, who is averaging 7.4 points per game and shooting a Kendall Marshall-esque 38 percent from the field.

Does Eric Bledsoe look more comfortable alongside a healthy Goran Dragic?

The most concerning part of the Suns’ loss on Friday wasn’t about late-game execution. It was about that lull that allowed the Nets to get back into the game, and Bledsoe seemingly was at the heart of it. Whether he’s thinking too much playing off the ball or trying too hard alongside Dragic, he looked tentative in his moves. But when it comes down to it, he need not play differently on the ball or off, and therein lies the worry for Phoenix.

No matter how you slice it at this point, the Suns are better off with Dragic running the show. As good as Bledsoe has been as the lone point guard, he has noticeably been the biggest problem when it comes to one of Hornacek’s repeated complaints — the Suns aren’t running enough. Phoenix is jogging up the court, especially off makes, and Hornacek has wondered aloud whether it has to do with conditioning or otherwise.

To be fair to Bledsoe , the big men also have to grab the ball and get it inbounds as fast as possible. And Dragic hasn’t been great at pushing the tempo 100 percent of the time either.

The Suns will benefit from Bledsoe and Dragic playing in attack mode at the same time, which they arguably haven’t done since the season-opener against Portland.

How do the power forwards play?

Weird stat from the Brooklyn game that actually makes sense: Channing Frye’s plus-minus of plus-19 was nine points better than any of his Suns teammates. Marcus Morris and Gerald Green had the next highest plus-minus scores for the game, which all goes back to the Suns answering Brooklyn’s 20-0 run with that trio subbing in early in the third quarter.

Frye hit 4-of-8 shots and had a good look for the game-winner. He finished with 13 points but also held his own defensively. Meanwhile, Markieff Morris continued his slide following his Western Conference Player of the Week honor. Can he bounce back from a 1-for-9 performance? And will Frye’s confidence grow as an integral part of both sides of the ball?

  • mark

    Markieff: western conference player of the year? Never going to happen. He did make player of the week for 3 good games in a row, since then he’s come back to earth.

  • Bill

    Hey Fredette stay off Goran’s feet this time !!!

  • EBJM

    Thanks Kevin for pointing out that the Nets are struggling.

    Sure D-Will and Brook are hurt but contenders have legitimate back-ups for that reason. Shaun Livingston played great in the Nets loss last night to the Blazers but for some reason rookie head coach decided to go with Reggie Evans instead of Blatche who just played a great game filling in for Brook.

    Once again the younger Alan Anderson out-played Pierce in 12 less minutes. He shot 100% from downtown to Pierce’s 0%

    Jason Terry continues to justify the Mavericks decision to dump him a couple seasons ago. He scored 5 points in 18 minutes.

    Garnett didn’t get to the free throw line at all while jacking up jump-shots at 42% while the other youngster who played well while Garnett sat the previous game, Mason, Mile’s brother only got 16 minutes of burn.

    Sadly Robin’s 4 consecutive game streak of double-digit rebounds ended with only seven but hey, I think J.J. Hickson has really gotten into Robin’s head and he is playing the type of ball we wish we could have seen out of him in Phoenix.

    The Blazers have surged to 9-2 a half of a game back of the Spurs for best of the West. What do the Blazers have that the suns don’t? An All-Star PF in LaMarcus Aldridge.

    Imagine that, the old guys of the Nets have led them to within a half a game of being the 2nd worse team in the league while Phoenix is a Greg Monroe away from emulating the Blazer’s success.

    Yes, I’m smiling ear to ear just like a Cheshire cat. Remind me again, why were we suppose to be watching the Nets? To learn how NOT to build a championship team?

  • Foreveris2long

    Unless Len has early retirement I doubt I will ever second guess the past draft. I think Goodwin will be at least as good as McLemore in a couple of years and there will be a plethora of talented wings next summer in the draft.

    Regarding if the Suns are better off with Dragic running the show, we’ll see how Dragic does if Bledsoe fouls out or if he gets injured. While I like both of these guys a lot and hope they play better off each other, I presently think the Suns play better when Bledsoe and Green share the backcourt as their roles are more defined causing less thinking and more impulsive play.

    However with the focus on the future and not the present, I appreciate the concern.

  • Sunsn7

    C’mon Kev, you sound like a Len apologist. Olapido was off the board so I was hoping the Suns took McLemore. When they took Len, I was (and am) willing to give him time. Just saying, you really cant blame Suns fans frustration with another potential Jake Tsakalidis.

    I hope he ends up being every bit as good as he the Suns think he can be. Just hope he’s not a paycheck big man with no real passion for basketball.

  • Scott

    I could see SAC rallying and beating PHX in both upcoming games. (No particular reason for why, just more effort, maybe?)

    I’m curious to see how Plumlee plays against Cousins, and if he gets on the court I’ll be watching McCallum (who I think could be a great backup PG for the Suns).

  • EBJM

    STOP comparing him to Jake Tsakilidis! Big Jake was a very HEALTHY 7′-2″ and 285# behemoth who clogged up the lane and was too slow for the Suns who have always played fast throughout their history. But he was selected #25 not #5. Why do you waste a #5 pick on a 7′-0″ center with bad ankles?

    His 2nd season in Phoenix he put up 7.3 PPG to go along with 5.3 RPG and 1.0 BPG. I think those numbers are better than any of Robin’s seasons in Phoenix aren’t they?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    ” So in our book, Phoenix should be considered the favorite on the road Tuesday night”

    You are correct Mr. Zimmerman….Suns are favored by 5…..which seems high to me.

    back-to-back games against the same team ?
    Did the NBA computer malfunction ?

  • Holly James

    Cousins will have a huge game tonight and the Kings will win a close game.

  • JK

    Out of the top 5 picks in the draft, only Victor Oladipo has really stood out. The Suns were in need of a big man in the 2013 NBA draft because McDonough was already planning to move Gortat, so we took the best one available. Would you guys have rather had Nerlens Noel with all his knee problems? I certainly wouldn’t. I’m gonna wait and see on this guy before slamming him as a wasted draft pick.

    In addition, does anyone know how long it will be when Emeka Okafor will be able to return? Considering this is a contract year for him, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him come out strong when he gets healthy again so that he can somewhat retain some of his value as a player.

  • Foreveris2long

    Michael Carter Williams, if healthy will likely win ROY and I doubt anyone on this board wanted the Suns to use the number 5 pick on him. Everyone else has had major ups and downs. In fact Oladipo I think had 9 turnovers in a game this weekend. Other than Williams, no one has performed consistently well.

  • Sunsn7

    @ EBJM – I compare Len to Tsakalidis in the fact that both guys were sold to us as the next “great white hope” of Suns’ centers. Suns fans had high hopes for Big Jake much like the Suns do right now for Len. Jake was a letdown and im just hoping Len gets healthy and is a solid contributor.

    Demarcus Cousins vs Markieff Morris/ Channing Frye

    Markieff?? Meet Gravity

  • RudeCerveza

    I can’t believe my eyes… what I am watching here? That’s awesome basketball.

  • foreveris2long

    “…the Suns are better off with Dragic running the show.” Are you kidding me Kev? In the last 3 minutes Dragic was stripped twice and he threw two passes away. Your point guard cannot do this against one of the worst teams in the league. I would definitely rather have Bledsoe running the point.

  • vtsunrise

    What just happened? A total eclipse of the Suns in the last 3 minutes of the game? I’m just going off the play by play on the nba.com site, but it looks like 15 misses or turnovers or fouls by the Suns. Wow. (I understand some of the fouls, but I’m hit by the misses and struck by 3 TOs!!! by Dragic?)

    My .500 prediction for Move-over, I mean November, is looking good. As for the Suns…?

  • vtsunrise

    Why did Bledsoe not play?

  • vtsunrise
  • dave:f32

    And that, folks, is how the cookie will crumble this season for our beloved Phoenix Suns….

    Btw, for all you Alex Len-draft-pick-@-#-5 loyalist:

    Ben McLemore: 34 min,5 rbs,19 pts,3 pf
    Alex Len: 5 min,1 asst,0 pts,1 pf

    I dont know about you, but i thought you make draft picks so the player PLAYS in games, not watches them from pine on the behind…umm, yeah, dropped the ball on that logic.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
    Julius Randle and Joel Embiid BEASTING today…beating up tha pu…say say what about Marcus Smart goin for close to 40 pts…!!?

  • foreveris2long

    VT, Bledsoe has a shin injury he sustained in practice on Sunday when he collided with Tucker. By the way Dragic had 4 turnovers in the last 3 minutes, I cannot believe it. FOUR!!! I just saw a brief interview with Coach and he was furious about the late turnovers.

    On a positive note, Goodwin is improving a lot in a short time frame. He is going to be really good.

  • foreveris2long

    What is your point Dave? Goodwin was as good as McLemore tonight and he was the 29th pick in the draft. While it is too early to judge Len IMO due to his injury, it seems the Suns got better value in Goodwin at the 29th pick.

    We definitely agree Randle would take the Suns to a really high level.

  • Luka

    The Suns don’t have a closer. More specifically, they don’t have a big they can run consistent plays through in the half court when the game slows down.

    Markieff Morris has been letting the team down. His player of the week award is looking like a fluke. Tonight he just kept commiting bad fouls and took himself out of the game.

    Frye meanwhile is nothing more than an oversized 2 guard. He can have the occasional good game on offense, but gives you zero toughness in the paint.

    The Suns need a Kenneth Faried type PF in the paint they simply don’t have it.

    Archie Goodwin though had a great game, and scored the majority of his points off hustle plays. I’m surprised Hornacek didn’t go back to him at the end of the game.

    @Vt — Bledsoe was out with a shin injury.

  • dave:f32

    My point…

    Alex Len = Forever is too Long a wait.)

  • vtsunrise

    I am psyched about Goodwin. Looking forward to seeing him play and grow.

  • vtsunrise

    Where’s the intelligent Dave?

  • Brooks

    Anyone out there DVR the Suns broadcast from tonight’s Kings game? I’m a Suns fan living in Sacramento. I sat behind Steve and EJ for tonight’s broadcast and Steve was gracious enough to get me and my 13 week suns-fan-in-training on the broadcast. I think he even gave us a shout out on air. My NBA league pass did not record the game, so I would do anything for a copy, clip, or screenshot. Any help? Thanks in advance!

  • dave:f32

    @vt, my bad, i thought i was going slow enough for you. All in good fun. Archie looked decent tonight but he has to be willing to dish it as much as he aims to score. Wink wink

  • Brooks

    correction 13 week suns-fan-in-training baby boy!

  • foreveris2long

    Dave are the Suns going anywhere soon? We easily have a couple years to wait so there is no hurry.

  • foreveris2long

    Funny stuff VT.

  • Lon Babby

    Sorry I’m late everybody. I just got back from the dry cleaners. I had spilled motza ball soup all over my suit watching our latest matchup versus the Kings. That Archie kid is something else.

    I want to begin by saying in sports, and in life, there’s a fine line between winning and losing. And while most people will crack open a newspaper and only look at the wins or losses most of the time, there’s no way to quantify the effort and the dedication.

    I’m pleased to say, unequivocally, that our team has been in every game this season. I can’t say enough about the hard work put in by not just our players but coaching staff as well.

    We’ve constructed a canvas and provided the supplies, and we are still currently finishing the masterpiece. Now if I could just finish my motzas all would be right in the world. (Laughs) Thanks guys.

  • Rusty

    @Luka

    Morris sucks. He just got lucky.

  • Lon Babby

    P.$. We are inactively tanking so that we can draft a quality prospect with potential stardom. This effort solely means we want to attract our fans back from our abysmal executive flubs, and get back to maximum profitability. We appreciate your continued patience and patronage during this trying time. Ticket prices will increase, as well as concessions, once we get over this hurdle. Now where`s my motza balls.

  • Scott

    @Brooks -

    You might go to Bright Side of the Suns, it’s at the top of the link list on the right. I’ve often heard posters there mention that they’re taping the game to watch at a later time.