In a much more encouraging game, the Phoenix Suns beat the Utah Jazz 101-85 without Eric Bledsoe (rest).

Take your pick for which Suns big impressed you the most. Markieff Morris (18 points in 16 minutes) and Alex Len (21 points in 23 minutes) borderline dominated at points in this game.

With all his doubts in the summer and more importantly, a rough season last year, Markeiff Morris has been the big winner through two Suns preseason games.

Morris seems much more active, staying perked up on defense and hustling every time he needs to. For the second straight game he showed the ability to come from the help side and use verticality to protect the rim. That's never going to be a strength for him, but he's strong enough and athletic enough for it to be effective. He was still a half-step off on multiple possessions off the ball defensively, but that's always going to be a weakness for Morris. The key was his activity and as long as he's playing like that, it doesn't matter why.

Offensively, Morris showed an improved shooting stroke and that opens up a plethora of options for his game. As Jeff Hornacek has said plenty of times, Morris is one of the best passers the Suns have. That combined with Morris having just enough of a handle and a first step to take power forwards off the dribble is what makes his three-point shooting so dangerous. His finishing ability puts him over the top, as he made difficult finishes time after time off the dribble. There's also the way it helps team spacing, but it helps Morris himself immensely.

The other impressive big was Alex Len. With the way the NBA is, not a lot of teams have backup centers, let alone good backup centers. Len is going to be the better 5 on the floor nearly every night he's out there off the bench, so everyone is hoping that Len will try to dominate. He's looked to take that initiative, playing very physical and recording multiple and-1's in the first half. Like Morris, Len actually has just enough of a first step and a handle to take opposing defenders off the dribble. It's only from the midrange unlike Morris, but Len's shot looking crisp when he hit two midrange jumpers in this game really helps him and his teammates.

As for the rest of the Suns, it was the preseason so we saw a lot of variation in minutes and level of play. P.J. Tucker didn't even check in until the second quarter, but he played the 4 really well defensively, looking even stronger against a big dude in Derrick Favors. Archie Goodwin had some very good drives in the third quarter, but had a little bit too much tunnel vision when he started to get the ball later on. T.J. Warren was the typical Tony Buckets factor, with smart cuts and getting out in transition. One thing to note is that this is the second straight game we saw Devin Booker at the 3. Sonny Weems seems to still be adjusting to the NBA and it's way too early to say anything more than that. He did have this sweet jam though.

The OOP to @SonnyWeems13!! #SunsVsJazz

— #SunsVsJazz (@Suns) October 10, 2015

The next preseason game for the Suns is on Tuesday at home against the Houston Rockets at 7:00 p.m.

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said pregame that Eric Bledsoe will be getting tonight off. He is starting Brandon Knight at point guard, with Archie Goodwin, T.J. Warren. Markieff Morris and Tyson Chandler.

For the Utah Jazz, Trey Burke and Joe Ingles are out for rest. Your new favorite player Raul Neto is getting the start tonight at point guard alongside Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert.

Make sure to follow Dave and I on twitter, who will be livetweeting from the arena.

Goodbye US Airways Center, hello Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Watch the arena formerly known as US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona become Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns.

Bright Side of the Sun gets to help send hundreds of kids to a Suns game on November 14 against the Denver Nuggets. Make a kid's night for a mere $16. Read on...

It's time.

It's time for our little community to give back to the much larger community of underprivileged kids and send many of them to their first ever Phoenix Suns game. There's a ton of young Suns fans out there who will never get into Talking Stick Resort Arena for a Suns game without a little help.

Be the one to help.

This is a big deal folks. Huge. Don't skip past this.

Bright Side - and that includes you! - sponsors 'Bright Side Night 2015' on November 14 at the Suns game against the Denver Nuggets. We ask you to donate some of your hard-earned money to send kids (and their chaperones) to a Suns game. We are targeting kids and families that might never get to go to a real game any other way.

This is the single most important things we have EVER done here at Bright Side. I need your help. I expect your help.

These kids need something great in their lives. They don't have much. Their parents struggle to make ends meet, so they're never going to get a chance to see a real NBA game unless you make it happen for them.

So make their year. Send a kid to a Suns game next month!

Just last week, the Suns hosted their first free intrasquad scrimmage in Phoenix at the... let's say venerable... Veterans Memorial Coliseum. At least 8,000 hungry Suns fans showed up. Many of them were kids with their parents who've never had a chance to see the Suns play in person before, and most won't ever get that chance again.

I've been to hundreds of Suns games and I'll tell you that the makeup of fans at the scrimmage last week looks very little like the makeup of fans at a typical Suns game. Of course there's the overlap. Many of you went to the scrimmage and will be back for a game (or 40) later this year.

But tell me how often you see young fans at real Suns games? How many times have we talked about how under-rowdy the arena is during games?

Let's help create a new generation of Suns fans right here, right now. Let's give these kids something to cheer - and we all know the arena could use a little new blood.

Sign up, donate a few bucks, and make a kid's night. Heck, maybe his or her whole year.


Here's how it works.

  • You click this link to donate:
  • Follow the links, and use the code 'SUNS' when prompted
  • Make sure you select 'Suns Blog Bright Side of the Sun $16 donation' when prompted, then follow the prompts, pick the number of tickets you're buying, and make the payment
  • $16 sends 1 kid to the November 14 Suns game against the Nuggets (chaperones will also get tickets)
  • $32 sends 2 kids to the game, $64 sends 4 of them... you get the picture
  • You will get a confirmation email directly from the Suns
  • Upon receipt of that email, your heart grows just a little bit bigger.
  • As we approach November 14, the Suns Community Relations team will identify the kids, get them the tickets, makes sure they all have chaperones, and take care of them on game day.
  • Bright Side takes tons of pictures, interviews some of the kids, and posts a recap on the site.
  • Your heart grows three times that day.

Need some incentive?

Look, I know you're not rolling in the dough. None of us are. We're always making value choices over whether to go out to lunch or not, sometimes having to decide the best way to spend that $20 of discretionary income this weekend. Money is precious. It's hard to part with it.

I get it.

But there isn't any real incentive here other than making someone else's year. You won't meet any of these kids unless you're at the game yourself. Once you spend the money, it's gone. You won't see it again.

But do it anyway. You'll know you did something great for them. And you'll be a better person for it.


Heart strings.

Blazers Edge (SB Nation partner, covering Portland) has been doing this for eight years, regularly sending more than 1,000 kids at a time! And those who donate get nothing out of it. Nada.

Check out their announcement article last year, how Dave Deckard describes the feeling of being there at those games.

Then come the stories from the night itself. Car rides or max rides in. Sometimes a special dinner. Wide eyes, like the kids can't believe they got invited to this. Walking into the Moda Center for the first time...there's something awe-inspiring about seeing the big scoreboard and the floor logo for the first time. And then when the game starts, the noise! The cheering. The stories that come pouring out afterwards from teachers and parents about how they got to see their kids smile and be kids for a while.

We've heard again and again how much this simple gesture means. You wouldn't think one game can make such a difference, but it does. As I said, last year we did this one...thousand...times...over, an incredible achievement. Our demand was also higher than ever before as news about the event spreads. We're looking to equal or exceed that number again this year.

Do it.


Having said that, it's important to raise as much money and send as many kids to the game as possible. So there is a little incentive for the big spenders.

The Suns have been generous enough to offer a pair of lower-bowl tickets to that same game to those who individually donate at least $160 at a time (10 tickets). And, the first 25 fans to do so will be part of an exclusive Q and A session with one of the members of the Suns front office before the game starts. This will be fun. You'll get behind the scenes, meet one of these guys in private setting deep in the Suns offices and ask the hard questions you always wanted to ask. And you can be part of the pictures with the kids too!

But what if you can't make it to the game? We've got readers in nearly 200 different countries. Most of you can't go to that game, I know.

But donate anyway. You'll get the tickets via email, and you can give them to someone else.

These kids need your help.

Just do it. Donate.


This is it, folks. This is the biggest, most important activity we've ever done on this blog. We are all here for the love of the game, and the love of the Suns.

Let's work together to make a new generation of Suns fans.

Don't make me the only one what donates. I can't do this alone, or those few kids will be real lonely in that empty section.



If there was ever a preseason game to care about, it's this one. The Utah Jazz will likely be who the Phoenix Suns are battling with for the 8 seed and this is a great opportunity to get a look at them.

The Suns host the Jazz from U.S Airways Center Takling Stick Resort Arena at 7 p.m. tonight. The game can be streamed on if you are within 75 miles of the arena and will also be on the radio on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

The Opponent

While playoff races were going down in both conferences, the Jazz were one of the best teams in the NBA in the second half of last season. Utah had the best team DefRtg after the All-Star break and it wasn't close. Their 94.8 rating was nearly a full 5 points better than the team in second, the Memphis Grizzlies at 99.4. For comparisons sake, the three best DefRtg's of the season were the Golden State Warriors at 98.3, the Milwaukee Bucks at 99.3 and the San Antonio Spurs at 99.6.

Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors had legitimate cases for All-NBA spots last season. Hayward has point forward skills mixed with a great stroke that make him a dangerous all-around offensive player. Physicality is the next big step in his game and Hayward addressed that by adding some serious muscle this summer. You'll remember Favors from the beginning of last season when he shellacked the Suns for 32 easy points. Favors is finally coming into his own after five seasons in the NBA, but the scary part is that the Georgia Tech product is still only 24 years old.

Of course, we shouldn't be talking about the Jazz without discussing Rudy Gobert. Among players who defended at least five field goal attempts at the rim last season, Gobert had the best opp. FG% at the rim in the NBA at 40.4% (Favors was 5th at 43.8%). Gobert is the next elite defensive player and just turned 23 last summer. He gives the Jazz a real big 3.

Even with Dante Exum going down in the offseason with a torn ACL, the Jazz still have good depth. Alec Burks can absolutely be the 4th-to-5th best player on a great team, Rodney Hood was one of the best kept secrets in the NBA last year, new guy Raul Neto is basketball twitter's new favorite player, and former Tucson product Bryce Cotton can light it up. Tibor Pleiss and Trey Lyles are also worth keeping an eye on.

The Suns

The one thing Jeff Hornacek seemed to focus on in the first preseason game was lineup combinations. Sonny Weems, P.J. Tucker, and Tyson Chandler only played 30 minutes combined because either Hornacek knows the flexibility he has with them (Tucker) or their roles are very cut and dry (Weems/Chandler).

So instead what we saw was Jon Leuer at center, Devin Booker at small forward, and a sneak peek of the possible staggering strategy with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.

Leuer has that Brandon Wright effect where he's just always in the right spots and doing the right things because he comes from a great, well-coached team. Despite what you may think about him as a player, he plays strong and fearlessly on the glass. That's what practicing against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will do to you. If he can continue to play that well physically (13 rebounds) and hit threes (6-8), he could definitely see time at the 4 and 5. Seeing a lineup of Bledsoe/Booker/Warren/Mirza/Leuer clear out the lane for Warren to give him a full isolation had me feeling all kinds of ways.

Booker at small forward is more of a way to get Archie Goodwin time on the floor in my opinion and I'm not sure why they'd even need to do that. My theory on that is it's a way for the team to play Booker when Weems is in at the 2 and Goodwin just saw the time because it's preseason. Booker once again moved around the floor like he belonged and got an awesome first-hand experience defensively facing a very similar player in Marco Belinelli on Wednesday. I'm sure he picked up a thing or two from the former Spur.

Bledsoe came out first for Weems in the first quarter and then later on started with Bledsoe and Booker as the backcourt. This is perfect because Bledsoe doesn't have nearly as much value as Knight does as a 2 guard with his shooting so Bledsoe should be playing primarily as a point and you replace him with an even better shooter than Knight in Booker. That allows Warren to get extended minutes and not have to worry about spacing.

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