Game Thread: Suns Look To Improve In Preseason vs. Jazz

Apr 4, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) go after a rebound during the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns won 87-85. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) go after a rebound during the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns won 87-85. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Game Thread:

Thanks for tuning in!

9:21 —  FINAL: Suns 101, Jazz 85. Phoenix now 2-0 in the preseason.

9:20 — Terrico White just had a monster rejection in transition that brought the crowd to its feet. So at least he’ll always have that.

9:18 — Len just missed a hook shot in the paint but it looked pretty. Henry Sims checks in for Len with 1:05 to play.

9:14 — A look at that Alex Len alley-oop. Suns up 98-84 with 1:39 to play. Timeout on the floor.

9:13 — Ronnie Price, after crossing up Raul Neto, just hit another three. I don’t know who this new Ronnie Price is, but I like him. Suns up 98-81

9:10 — Len is tied with Hayward for a game-high 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Also has six rebounds. Could he be a dark horse for Sixth Man of the Year?

9:09 — Weems finds Len for an alley-oop to put the Suns up 13 with four minutes to go. Leuer doing a little bit of everything out there. Price with the razzle-dazzle to put Phoenix up 15. Suns fans should feel good about this bench right now.

9:06 — Here’s that Sonny Weems alley-oop that happened out of a timeout:

9:05 — Jazz have cut the lead to 87-80 with 5:57 left, but hey, Trevor Booker missed two consecutive free throws, so FREE CARL’S JR.!!!

9:03 — Price just took a charge. Not trying to gush over preseason play, but he looks like he’ll be a solid backup for the Suns this year.

9:01 — First play out of a timeout, Price finds Weems streaking toward the basket for an alley-oop dunk Suns up 85-75

8:59 — Timeout on the floor. Suns up 83-75 with 8:20 to play in the fourth.

8:56 — Something to keep an eye on:

8:55 — A Ronnie Price corner three just hit the side of the backboard. As a guy who’s shot under 30 percent from downtown for his career, THAT’S the Ronnie Price most of us have been expecting.

8:54 — Price, Weems, Booker, Leuer and Len out there to start the fourth. Leuer goes to work on rookie Trey Lyles on the block but it rims out. Suns up 81-70.

8:51 — Keef with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Len with 16 points off the bench. Suns’ big men might be their biggest strength in 2015-16.

8:50 — End of the third quarter: Suns 80, Jazz 68. Dominant period for Phoenix.

8:48 — Suns up 77-67 after a pair of Alex Len free throws. One minute left in the third.

8:45 — Leuer just got in Warren’s way on a pick-and-roll bringing his man with him. Didn’t matter. Warren finishes the floater anyway. After such a quiet start, he’s already got 10 points now.

8:43 — Also, guess Leuer isn’t getting the night off after all. He checks into the game for the first time all night. Hayward’s three-point play in transition pulls Jazz within seven, could cut it to six after the free throw. Timeout on the floor.

8:41 — Here’s that Archie Goodwin three-point play, by the way:

8:40 — Great defense from Chandler from beyond the three-point line leads to a breakaway steal and dunk for T.J. Warren. Chandler almost gets another steal on the next play, but is whistled for the foul and when Chandler stomps off clapping in disagreement, he gets hit with a T. Still, gotta love the enthusiasm.

8:38 — Of course, right after I tweeted this, Gobert stuffs Archie at the rim on the next play.

8:36 — Brandon Knight has been quiet in the scoring column (two points, 1-of-7 shooting), but he’s got six assists. Meanwhile, Archie Goodwin just had a nice drive to the rim that ended in a bucket plus the foul. Suns up 62-57

8:31 — Trevor Booker just tried to destroy the helpless rim, but Warren comes flying in and fouls him to send him to the line. Timeout on the floor, Suns still up 59-56.

8:30 — Tyson Chandler pins Alec Burks on a drive to the basket, but Burks eventually gets a tip slam on a missed shot. Suns up 59-56

8:28 — Archie Goodwin with the great hustle on a loose ball, drawing cheers from the crowd.

8:27 — Keef has been causing problems out there tonight for that stingy Jazz defense. Just picked up a charging foul on Favors too

8:25 — Keef with another five quick points to start the second half. He’s got 13 on the night on 5-of-8 shooting, 3-for-4 from downtown

8:23 — Hayward and Keef trade threes to start the second half

8:09 — HALFTIME: Jazz 47, Suns 45. Hayward leads Utah with 11, Favors has 10. Suns led by Len’s 14 points, Phoenix shooting just 39.1 percent from the floor.

8:07 — Tucker takes a charge on Gobert. Ouch. That had to hurt.

8:06 — And just as I say that, Tucker gives up an offensive board to the bigger Favors for an easy put-back dunk.

8:04 — With Utah’s starting five in against Price, Booker, Warren, Tucker and Jefferson, the Jazz have the advantage now. Tucker holding his own as a small-ball 4, though.

8:02 — T.J. Warren has been quiet tonight despite getting the start. Only two points on 1-of-3 shooting. Hayward’s free throws put Jazz up 44-43 with 2:50 to play in the first half.

8:01 — Rudy Gobert just soared over everyone for a two-handed dunk in transition to give Utah the lead, but Booker answered with a jumper and Cory Jefferson just denied Favors at the rim

7:59 — Timeout Suns as Jazz cut the lead to 41-40. For those wondering, Jon Leuer has not checked in tonight. Might be getting the night off as well.

7:58 — Here’s a look at that Alex Len put-back dunk from earlier:

7:55 — Booker knocks down a baseline jumper. His shot is so damn pretty.

7:53 — Timeout Jazz as Suns go up 39-36. Phoenix on pace for a 30-point quarter here in the second.

7:51 — Cory Jefferson vs. Jack Cooley down in the paint, battling for loose boards. Just what we all came for.

7:49 — Devin Booker checks in for the first time tonight. Suns up 37-34 with Ronnie Price playing like a man possessed (or, at least, one who knows how to shoot).

7:48 — Meanwhile….

7:46 — Len up to 14 points in eight minutes now after that tip slam. Once again, Suns’ bench bailing out a slow start from the starting five.

7:45 — Believe it or not, that Tucker basket was his first shot of the preseason. Tyson Chandler comes out to give Len an enthusiastic high five at the timeout break. Suns take a 35-34 lead.

7:44 — Tip slam from Len off a missed Price three! He’s making Pleiss look bad out there

7:43 — Alex Len has 12 points in seven minutes already. He’s looking good all around. He should be able to feast on opposing backup centers all year long.

7:42 — Or maybe the world is just ending, since Ronnie Price just knocked down a triple. Jazz up 34-29

7:42 — Len has knocked down two midrange jumpers now. IT’S REALLY HAPPENING


7:38 — Morris and Len lead the Suns with eight points apiece. Hayward leads the Jazz with 10, Favors has nine. Phoenix only down six despite shooting 37.5 percent from the floor.

7:37 — End of first quarter: Jazz 30, Suns 24. Some good news though, Alex Len has bulked up enough to make Tibor Pleiss look like a garden rake by comparison

7:35 — Looking like another rough shooting night for Mirza Teletovic. He’s not shy at all, but he’s 1-for-5 so far.

7:34 — Alex Len just knocked down a jumper. IT’S HAPPENING PEOPLE

7:31 — The Jazz are shooting 80 percent from the floor so far (12-for-15). Maybe we should hold up on those talks about a top-10 defense for just a tick.

7:30 — Mirza buries an open three from the top of the key, but Jazz still up 29-19. Getting stops has been the issue for Phoenix. Timeout Suns.

7:28 — Whoa. Early Kyle Casey sighting. Sonny Weems also checks in. Archie and T.J. head to the bench

7:27 — Len with a three-point play to pull Phoenix within seven, 23-16. Mirza Teletovic is in the game now

7:25 — Alex Len checks in for Tyson Chandler. Now might be a nice time to see if he really CAN shoot threes.

7:23 — Hayward looks smooth as hell out there. He’s already got eight points and each bucket has been a swish. Goodwin with a nice up-and-under layup and Warren on the fast break pulls the Suns within seven

7:22 — First Utah sub is Rodney Hood, who checks in for Burks. Jazz up 18-9 with 5:48 left in the first quarter.

7:20 — Timeout on the floor. Jazz up 16-9, Keef has eight of the Suns’ points. He’s made two of his three three-point attempts and looks confident taking that shot in rhythm. Even the one that rimmed out looked good.

7:16 — Warren just got clocked on a Gobert screen. Meanwhile, Keef certainly isn’t shy about shooting here tonight. Looking more confident from three-point range. Jazz up 13-6, however.

7:14 — Keef knocks down a corner three. If he can do that consistently this season, Suns’ spacing on offense will be pretty darn good.

7:12 — Warren made a nice backdoor cut that left Hayward in the dust, but Gobert was waiting with the helped D. Unfortunately, that confrontation ended as expected.

7:11 — Game starts with a bricked Tyson Chandler jumper. It really is preseason!

7:09 — Something to keep in mind with this starting five: Suns have very little perimeter shooting against what was the league’s best defense after the All-Star break.

7:07 — Props to the Suns’ digital team. They’ve already added highlights from the team’s preseason opener, including a T.J. Warren breakaway dunk, Ronnie Price’s 360 fadeaway and, of course, Jon Leuer’s dunk on Boogie

7:05 — Starters for Utah: Alec Burks, Raul Neto, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert

7:00 — Tipoff here in three minutes. Fun fact: Suns are 1-0 in games I’ve attended so far this season. STARTING THE NEW SEASON OFF RIGHT.

6:53 — They’re playing that “Downtown” song by Macklemore here at Talking Stick Resort Arena, making that 2-for-2 on appearances at preseason games. I detest this song.

6:48 — In our preview, I wondered if Goodwin was starting to look like the odd man out. Hornacek said before the game that he’d try to get the guys who didn’t get minutes in that first preseason contest more time tonight. Archie only played seven minutes in the opener, but gets the start tonight.

6:43 — Eric Bledsoe, Trey Burke and Joe Ingles are all out tonight resting for Suns vs. Jazz. Head coach Jeff Hornacek said Brandon Knight will start at the 1, Archie Goodwin will start at the 2 and T.J. Warren will start at the 3.


Phoenix Suns (1-0) vs. Utah Jazz (2-0)
When: Fri Oct. 9, 2015 @ 7 p.m.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ


In the Suns’ preseason opener against the Sacramento Kings Wednesday, Phoenix emerged with a 102-98 victory in the first ever NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Jon Leuer posterized DeMarcus Cousins, the bench played great and the Suns even avoided another buzzer-beating loss.

ALSO ON VALLEY OF THE SUNS: 5 Lessons From Suns’ Preseason Opener

But there were definitely areas for improvement, as you’d expect from any preseason opener. What was unexpected, however, was the starting five’s lack of chemistry, particularly in the first half when Sacramento’s starters outscored Phoenix’s starters by a margin of 40-17.

Against Utah, the league’s stingiest defense after the All-Star Break last season, the Suns’ offense will be put to the test right from the tipoff on Friday. After such a strong outing from the reserves, Phoenix’s starters will need to bring the kind of defensive intensity that head coach Jeff Hornacek was looking for in the opener.

Three Things To Watch:

1. Warren With The Starters? — At training camp, T.J. Warren got some time with the starting unit at small forward. Before the preseason opener, Hornacek seemed to be open to mixing around his lineups. With P.J. Tucker putting up a goose egg and Warren finishing with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, Phoenix’s first preseason game made quite an impression.

It’s only preseason, but most fans believe it’s only a matter of time before Warren usurps Tucker for the starting spot. Will Hornacek give Warren — the Suns’ first sub off the bench in the opener — run with the starters right from the get-go? Or is Tucker, who came out sloppy defensively, still in control for the time being?

2. Leuer’s Follow-Up Act — Jon Leuer was Superman for the Suns in the preseason opener, which makes sense based on his Media Day attire. When he baptized Boogie, Leuer provided Suns fans with the greatest poster dunk on display since Archie Goodwin punished Jonas Valanciunas last season.

But it wasn’t just that one play that made Leuer stand out, as the former Memphis Grizzly tied Warren with a team-high 17 points and also added in 13 rebounds in only 19 minutes.

Leuer has had a strong training camp, so if he’s able to follow it up with another eye-opening preseason performance, we may need to reexamine how much playing time he should earn this year.

3. Is Archie The Odd Man Out? — Hornacek said before the opener that he’d be trying to get everyone in the game, and also mentioned that Devin Booker and Sonny Weems might log some time at the 3 so Archie Goodwin could get more minutes. The result? Seven minutes for the third-year guard.

Booker played 24 minutes in the preseason opener, but there’s reason for optimism for Archie since Weems only logged six minutes. Hornacek has said he’ll go with the guys that help the Suns win, so was that lack of playing time for Weems and Archie just for that reason? Or was it an indicator for the future? Monitoring their minutes in this second preseason game could help answer those questions.

Fun Fact:

With four steals in the preseason opener, Eric Bledsoe tied Trevor Ariza for first in the league in steals per game. Leuer ranks fourth in rebounds per game at 13. Hooray for only having played one game so far!

Game Thread:

Check back at 7 p.m. Arizona time tonight for our Valley of the Suns game thread with live updates from the arena!

Next: 5 Steps To Markieff Morris Redeeming Himself

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