New look, but same old Suns in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 6: Devin Booker /

New look, same old Suns.

We obviously have to take the preseason with a grain of salt, but trends and habits are hard to ignore or be broken, and the Suns of last year seem to have shown back up so far this year as Phoenix continues to play pourous defense, turn the ball over with impunity, and neglect to accumulate assists.

Phoenix opened with a very unique starting lineup, one that Suns fans have been hoping to see, with both T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson starting together, and Marquese Chriss at center. In the year of experimentation, this will be a fun lineup to see if it can be utilized with any regularity to get both wings in the starting lineup together, and Chriss some reps against bigger players.

Against a team that played 15 deep tonight, the Suns out turnovered Utah 20-14; they were out assisted 22-19 (they averaged 19.6 last season, the second least in the league); and because of a ridiculous rebound discrepancy of 53-39, Utah out shot the Suns, 97-74. Due to a great gap in offensive rebounds, 19 to the Suns’ 4, Utah too outscored the Suns 26-2 (yes, 26-2) in second chance points.

That being said, all things weren’t that bad. For starters, the Suns started both the first and third quarters quite well, outscored by only three in the first, and outscoring Utah 30-19 in the third clawing to within two points with 1:09 remaining in the quarter – although they would never get any closer than three the rest of the way.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Individually, Alex Len followed up his fantastic first game with an 18 point, 9 rebound, and 2 blocked shot game, draining 5-7 from the field with 8-10 from the charity stripe. Troy Daniels too followed up his great early shooting with an 18 point final scoring line after draining 5-6 from beyond the arc. Already in two games he is 10-17 from 3-point range, and at least early on in the preseason, is showing to be an absolute steal offensively.

Marquese Chriss played to his rookie form, fouling out in only 24:50, scoring 10 points on 2-8 shooting for the field, while turning the ball over 5 times. Although, he finished with 4 blocked shots and 7 boards to wrap up a very disjointed stat line.

T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson each opened up like gangbusters in the starting lineup, Warren leading all scorers with 8 points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, Warren suffered another head injury after a nasty spill in the second stanza where his head hit the ground hard, and he would not return in the game. He is officially in the concussion protocol, but will hopefully be fully healthy and ready to go by the start of the season. He could certainly play the last preseason game or two, although do Suns fans really want to risk anything for games that don’t matter, especially after what happened last season?

Next: Re-signing T.J. Warren has many positives

Probably not.

Guards Rodney Hood and Alec Burks led Utah in scoring with 19 points apiece, while Rudy Gobert finished with 9 points and 12 rebounds.

These two teams meet once again on Monday evening in Phoenix, the Suns’ first home game of the year.