The Phoenix Suns got off to a real bad start. It's as if the team thought they could run all over a team from Brazil. But this is a team that won their championship and is used to playing together. While the Suns thought walking the ball up the court would be an okay thing.

The Flamengo lead got to 11-4 and then 15-8 when Hornacek finally called a timeout at the 5:43 mark of the first quarter. The Suns by that time had missed at least 5 layups and runners - just not feeling it as a group.

Hornacek replaced the starters with Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker and Shavlik Randolph (along with Keef) and who scores early? Shav of course. He got a putback layup and then a jumper to liven up the team.

Still it was a struggle on both ends of the court for the Suns. They just weren't in rhythm.

After the first quarter, the Suns slogged to a 26-21 deficit. Missed a ton of easy shots. And by that I mean a ton.

The second quarter didn't get any better at the start. Bledsoe missed another layup, Keef missed a long two and teh Suns were flat-footed on D.

The Suns finally went on a 7-0 run with Bledsoe and Archie running the show and driving mercilessly to the rim.

On the back of Bledsoe - a tank with a porsche engine, per Randy Hill of Fox Sports Arizona - and Archie Goodwin and Markieff Morris, the Suns took their first lead (34-33) at the 6:27 mark of the second quarter.

The highlight/lowlight of the first half was Archie Goodwin grabbing a loose ball on his knees and feeding Bledsoe on the break before getting called for the traveling.

The Suns went on a 19-4 run largely with Markieff Morris at the five - otherwise known as going small - because they decided it's okay to outhustle and outwork the Brazilian squad.

Bledsoe was really good on both ends of the court in the first half, getting 13 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. The Morris brothers scored 19 points and had 9 rebounds, FIVE steals and 2 assists between them.

The Suns led 54-43 at halftime. They went 11 deep in the first half, but not one rookie played. No T.J. Warren. No Tyler Ennis. No Zoran Dragic.

Maybe in the second half?

The Suns began the second half with the starters and tried to play a lot better than the first time around. It didn't work.

Miles Plumlee still looks lost on the low block. He's just not a guy you count on for creating the play from a post-up position. He had a very forgettable 13 minutes so far, with 4 turnovers against just one rebound and four points.

The starters allowed Flamengo to go on a 16-7 run to start the second half to pull within 2 points though before Hornacek had to call another timeout.

Even putting in three subs - Thomas, Green and Goodwin - didn't help quell the Flamengo fire. The Suns just didn't have it. At all. Losing rebounds and passes from just not trying hard enough.

It got to be tough to watch.

The Suns finally pulled back ahead by 5 on a hesitation dribble by Isaiah Thomas to get the and-one layup. Thomas has otherwise been quiet tonight, but still somehow has 8 points and 3 assists. Leads the team in assists, by the way.

End of three - Suns 71, Flamengo 66.

The fourth quarter began with a bit of Archie and Shav, though Shav missed an open three so his shot at being Channing is over. Sorry Shav.

The Suns went on a 17-0 run, getting up 80-66 before Flamengo scored again. And that was only on a goaltend call where Green almost blocked a layup.

Still, no rookies.

When Hornacek subbed back in, it was Goran Dragic. Not his brother Zoran. Or T.J. Warren. Or Tyler Ennis. Or any of the non-roster guys trying to make a team.

Still, the main players couldn't blow out a team that had never faced an NBA team before.

Did I say this was an ugly game?

Thomas and Green carried the Suns in the fourth quarter, with Isaiah being their best shooter on the night. Thomas finished the game with 18 points and 4 assists while Gerald Green pumped in 13 of his own.

Finally, the Suns put in their two first round picks, and Tyler Ennis responded with two quick turnovers on consecutive possessions. Oh well. He just turned 20.

Goran finished the game with Ennis, T.J. Warren, Miles Plumlee and P.J. Tucker. The Suns defense suffered with the rookies and an unfamiliar rotation.

Finally, Ennis scored on a floater and Warren pumped in a three-pointer to break their cherries.

Zoran Dragic was the human victory cigar... and hit a three pointer on his first shot attempt!

Suns won 100-88.

Here's the thread.

It's on TV - FoxSports Arizona.

Hornacek, on what he's looking for tonight:

Offensively: "Make sure we're pushing the ball, you know, make sure we can get that tempo up."

Defensively:

  • "If we're following our principles. We have rules on certain parts of the court we want them to do certain things. We'll just keep an eye on that, that they remember those and they're not just out there playing the game of basketball. That they're trying to do it by what we've kind of set up for them to do.
  • "We'll see who can follow directions and who we can count on to do the right things."
Tonight, the starters will be Dragic and Bledsoe in the back court, with Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Miles Plumlee on the front line.

All the blogger NBA previews for the Central and Northwest divisions.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: Blog a Bull
Cleveland Cavaliers: Fear the Sword | Waiting For Next Year
Detroit Pistons: Detroit Bad Boys
Indiana Pacers: Indy Cornrows
Milwaukee Bucks: Brew Hoop

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets: Denver Stiffs
Minnesota Timberwolves: Canis Hoopus
Oklahoma City Thunder: Welcome to Loud City
Portland Trail Blazers: Blazer's Edge
Utah Jazz: SLC Dunk

Index of all SBNation Previews

Additional Preview Features from Sonics Rising.

Time: 7:00 MST TV: FSA Suns fans, basketball is finally back. The Phoenix Suns open up their preseason slate with a home game against Flamengo, a Brazilian professional team. No, this is not an NBA...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Who doesn't like a good nonsensical ranking in the pre-season? Well, this is for you...

The calm before the storm is here. The almost Top 10 and a reveal of who and what will be the most important factors to the Phoenix Suns here in the 2014-2015 NBA season. Getting antsy?

We knocked out 25-16 on here for #SUNSRANK for the 2014-2015 Phoenix Suns season with some big names and other faces that will have a say in how the season goes overall. Go back and check out the lists from this week if you missed them, but lets continue to march forward.

In these rankings some great names were left out of the Top 25 like Casey Prather, Jamil Wilson, Joe Jackson, Earl Barron, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alec Brown, the Cheerleaders, and the Hip-Hop Squad. They will not be forgotten.

#SUNSRANK is a compilation of 14 writers here on Bright Side that ranked the most important names and faces of the franchise for this one year. This is not a "future rankings" or some Fox News one-sided account of things. Everyone had their own opinion and the rankings are as the staff deemed fit. There were some wild rankings, but we are not going to leak like a sieve a la the NSA in here. We have some integrity.

Check back daily as well as on Twitter for #SUNSRANK where five more names will be released leading all the way down to No. 1. What do you think about these five listed so far?

*************************

25-21 << 20-16 << 15-11 << 10-6 << 5-1

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No. 15: T.J. Warren (14.857)

Profile: 6'8" 215 lbs. Small Forward -- Rookie N.C. State

Stats (College): In 35.3 MPG 24.9 PPG 7.1 RPG 1.8 SPG 54.5% FG 26.7% 3PT

Interesting Fact: Warren was the first player in 23 years (Kenny Anderson) to score 40+ points in back-to-back games in N.C. State history.

Analysis: The three biggest needs for the Suns this off-season (in my opinion) were 1) Addressing the back-up point guard spot 2) Wing scoring and play-making and 3) Interior depth... Warren fills in nicely for the second need there as one of the more prolific amateur scorers in the 2014 NBA Draft. Now, he may not get a chance to shine bright in NBA games very often this season with Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris, Archie Goodwin, and the plethora of point guards in front of him, but he is in a great spot. Having someone that moves without the ball like Warren does scoring inside the three-point line with his craft, intelligence, and use of angles is valuable with a ball-dominant point guard trio. When he gets on the court in traditional line-ups he will be a nice weapon for Coach Hornacek and company. This was a nice building block piece rather than an immediate impact one like some other draft picks could have been. Great fit and when he gets some time you will see why. -- Kris Habbas

Important Question: Over/Under on percentage of time spent in the D-League -- 50.5%

No. 14: Archie Goodwin (14.769)

Profile: 6'5" 198 lbs. Guard -- Second Year Kentucky

Stats (Last Year): In 10.3 MPG 3.7 PPG 1.7 RPG 45.5% FG 13.9% 3PT

Interesting Fact: Goodwin was John Calipari's 12th first round pick in four years with the Kentucky Wildcats. That's a lot.

Analysis: It might surprise some to see Archie Goodwin ranked so high on this list. But some lack imagination, vision, scouting ability, and faith. When I first saw Archie play I knew he was going to be a special player. His place in the Ring of Honor is only a matter of time. The debates comparing Archie vs. Kobe will come. It's OK if you don't see it now. You also probably called Goran "Tragic". You probably don't even have the patience to let your leftover pizza fully warm in the microwave before you take it out and chow down.


Don't eat cold pizza. Don't be in such a hurry to fill your belly. Sit back and enjoy watching the early years of this future star and you can tell your grandchildren that you might not have been first on the bandwagon but you weren't last. You're welcome. -- Seth Pollack

Important Question: Can Archie crack the rotation?

No. 13: Anthony Tolliver (14.571)


Profile: 6'8" 240 lbs. Center -- Seventh Year Creighton

Stats (Last Year): In 20.3 MPG 6.1 PPG 2.6 RPG 42.0% FG 41.3% 3PT

Interesting Fact: He played for a team called "Eisbaren Bremerhaven" in Germany before joining the NBA. That translates to "Polar Bears Bremerhaven."

Analysis: You know, that Frye guy? Yeah, I still think his spacing and shooting were (to my mind) invaluable to the way the Suns offense functioned last season and it will not be so easy to replace. Morris will probably start as a stretch four but he will need some help off the bench, and Tolliver has shown he can hit the three on an open look. So yeah, He will not be instrumental in winning games (well, too early to say at this point) but if he hits a couple of wide open threes, he will definitely add to the spacing (even if it is the second unit) so his contribution will be important. -- Matija

Important Question: Not can Tolliver replace the shooting Frye took with him to Orlando, but, can he make-up the loss of Markieff off the bench?

No. 12: Marcus Morris (13.071)

Profile: 6'9" 235 lbs. Forward -- Fourth Year Kansas

Stats (Last Year): In 22.0 MPG 9.7 PPG 3.9 RPG 1.1 APG 44.2% FG 38.1% 3PT

Interesting Fact: The Morrii were the second pair of brothers selected back-to-back, and, in the exact same slots (13, 14) as Dick and Tom Van Arsdale.

Analysis: Marcus Morris needs to earn his contract this season.  He's making almost the exact same amount of money as the guy in front of him (P.J. Tucker), but no one is clamoring for Morris to take Tucker's place in the starting starting line-up.  When Mook is on, he earns his nickname as "Melo" Morris hitting a dazzling array of mid-range jumpers as well as knocking down 3-pointers at an excellent clip.  When he's off, however, he does nothing on the court to make up for his offensive inefficiency.  His rebounding is mediocre and his defense is sub-par.  He's got a chance to be an integral part of one of the best second units in the NBA along with Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Anthony Tolliver and Alex Len.  But without taking a similar step forward in his game to the one Markieff Morris took last season, Mook could end up being a weak link on a strong bench. - Mike Lisboa

Important Question: What else will Marcus contribute outside of three-point shooting?

No. 11: P.J. Tucker (11.071)

Profile: 6'5" 225 lbs. Small Forward -- Fourth Year Texas

Stats (Last Year): In 30.7 MPG 9.4 PPG 6.5 RPG 1.4 SPG 43.1% FG 38.7% 3PT

Interesting Fact: Tucker and his teammate (Marcus Morris) were both Big 12 Player of The Year in college. Two years ago they had three B12 POY's on the roster including Michael Beasley.

Analysis: P.J. Tucker is another very unique player on the Suns.  Phoenix has a lot of athletes, great shooters, slashers, and passers...but they only have one lock down defender that can guard anyone from the two to the four.  Tucker is that guy.  P.J. would earn his money simply by being that lock down defender and an energy/hustle guy that rips rebounds away from taller players, while also out-hustling/out-muscling just about any other player in the NBA.  However, the fact that he has added an effective and consistent corner three-point shot to his offensive game is a huge bonus that gives the Suns another weapon on the floor. Tucker also brings a kind of toughness and attitude to the Suns that seems to rub off on the rest of the team when he's on the court. Tucker is a one-of-a-kind player whose impact simply can't be replicated by anyone else on the roster. -- Sean Sullivan

Important Question: Will Tucker's shooting and rebounding be consistent enough to play him at the four big minutes?

Come back tomorrow for 10-6 in the #SUNSRANK series and follow along on Twitter!

Ohhh....

Each ranking will also include one write-in ballot from the writers. We have five tremendous write-in's starting with Jim's:

Write In: The Los Angeles Lakers

I'm going to go Goldilocks and the Three Bears here. The Suns don't want the porridge (the Lakers draft pick) to be too hot (11-14), or too cold (1-5), but just right (6-10). Of course in this scenario the Suns won't actually be the ones doing the tasting, since Kobe Bryant is Goldilocks (for obvious reasons).


Basically, Suns fans should be cheering for the Lakers to suck just the right amount. Following the Lakers' lottery position should be an interesting subplot as the season lumbers along. With all the positive movement the Suns have made in the last year and a half they still seem to be a little bit short of entering the fray of legitimate title contenders. A quality lottery pick (swindled from their nemesis) next summer would be another useful asset to help trampoline the team into that realm.


Plus, any chance to take a perverse sense of satisfaction out of the Lakers' misfortune is reason for celebration.  -- Jim Coughenhour

Lakers Funny

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