Not a bad game, huh? The Phoenix Suns starters looks pretty much in synch already in Friday's preseason home win over the Portland Trail Blazers. As Jim said in his recap, Goran Dragic looked really sharp, super confident and in word, he Killed It.
His lack of "game shape" might have shown up in the second half when he seemed a step slower, but no worries there at this point in the calendar. Of course, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris made up for poor first half efforts to carry the second.
Here's my snap impressions of the team overall based on this game:
Rebounding is going to be an issue all year long unless Jermaine O'Neal is able to play a lot better than the last few years of his career would indicate or Gentry is will to sacrifice offense can play some of his bench bangers more.
Offensively, this team has a lot of weapons and with Dragic looking like a legit NBA point guard to run the show, they should score well and actually have a few new ways to put the ball in the hoop. Most notably, they can go to Luis Scola in the post (or even J.O.) which they didn't do much in this game; they can run pick and roll; they've got a few iso guys in Michael Beasley and Shannon Brown; and Jared Dudley and Wesley Johnson add floor spacing. You can see how it might be a very nice, diversified mix once we get to the regular season rotations.
Beasley really stood out for his willingness to move the ball (at least in the first half) and you could see a clear pattern emerge where he would get the shot late in the clock when plays broke down. Gentry's been wanting a player like that for the last few years.
Defensively, the jury is still out. The Blazers have a lot of work to do so while the Suns did well against them, I'm not sold yet that they are ready to stop better competition. We'll see.
The bench didn't play well in this game, but that doesn't bother me. We know Kendall Marshall isn't ready for the show so Sebastian Telfair should do a much better job at point and the rotations will be tighter.
That was a lot more words than I planned on writing as an intro to these other recap links. Suck it up.
From our cousins at SB Nation Arizona:
That was evident as Dragic created unique offense for his teammates with 5 assists in his first 15 minutes of action. Very Nash-like, but done in a very Dragic-like manner. "I think Goran is in a really good place," Coach Gentry after the game. "His idea is not to replace Steve, but to try to be the best player we want him to be. We just want him to be the best Goran he can be."
Suns vs. Blazers: Just 'a typical preseason game' - SB Nation Arizona
Finding five players, "guys that can play together," is one of the priorities that Gentry has in the preseason, and it looks like that the current starting lineup could be what we see on Opening Night. 58 points in two first quarters is what Gentry describes as "hard to do when you just throw a bunch of players together."
And from the Portland side of the fence:
You may recall that we've been saying for a while that there will be two sides to the Blazers' run-and-spread offense this season. When they catch opposing teams unprepared or unmotivated they're going to look pretty. When defenses remember to work and/or when the Blazers fail to execute properly those same players will look like they're walking through a collective nightmare.
And from our other local friends:
the point guard who had one practice before preseason, got in foul trouble Wednesday night at Sacramento and supposedly would have to play himself into shape, was the one point guard to watch at US Airways Center. Handed the impossible task of following Steve Nash,Goran Dragic is comfortable in his own skin, is in a Suns system he knows and has Nash’s old locker.
"The offensive rebounding is still a huge concern," Gentry said of giving up 17 offensive boards to the Blazers. "Then, I think the dribble penetration. We’re going to have to do a better job of keeping the ball out of the paint."
"He’s a good player," Gentry said. "I think with him the whole thing was just confidence. He needed confidence, and that’s not unusual for a young player, so hopefully we’re going to try to instill that in him. His overall game is better than we anticipated. He puts the ball down, he’s a long guy, pretty good defender, gets out and runs. We’ll just continue to try to work with him to get him to the point where he’s a very consistent and very confident player."
The Suns have the next 4 days off as they don’t play the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas until Wednesday.
And finally, the game book.