Alvin Gentry, never one to look a preseason win in the mouth, told reporters after the Suns win in Dallas that he wants his team to focus on getting better defensively. Phoenix improved to 2-1 in the preseason with the road win.


Preseason is about the small victories. Especially for a team like the Suns with so many new faces to integrate, it had to be encouraging that three crucial starters — Goran Dragic, Jared...

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It wasn't always pretty, but it's still a win (in the preseason where wins mean virtually nothing). The Suns starters played very well en route the the six-point victory, but the team as a whole was very up-and-down.

Phoenix got off to a quick start offensively, but unfortunately they left their defense in the locker room and Dallas kept pace for a the first several minutes. The Suns picked up the effort level and built up a 24-16 lead before Goran Dragic took a seat. That's when things took a turn for the worse.

Behind everyone's least favorite flammable shooting guard the Mavs ripped off a 15-0 run. Vince Carter scored seven points during the stretch, and the trio of Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris and Sebastian Telfair looked incompetent offensively. A Shannon Brown jumper put an end to the run and the Suns were able to make it out of the first quarter only trailing by three, 31-28.

The bench picked up their defense in the second quarter and worked their way back, taking a 43-42 lead on a pair of Markieff Morris free throws. The two teams battled back and forth with the Suns pulling ahead at 49-46. However, the Mavericks closed out the final 2:46 of the quarter on a 8-0 run to take a 54-49 lead into halftime.

Unfortunately, the Suns lost Shannon Brown for the game when he rolled his ankle on a drive with about 30 seconds left in the half. Thankfully, it's not too bad:

Update on @shannonbrown. He turned his ankle tonight in Dallas. There is no swelling and he is expected to return soon. #SunsAtMavs

— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) October 18, 2012

The starting five kicked off the second half and the Suns dominated the third quarter behind the brilliant play of Goran Dragic. With Dragic and Gortat playing nearly the entire period, the Suns outscored the Mavericks 32-20 and took a 81-74 lead into the final quarter.

Gentry turned the reigns over to the second unit (plus a couple) to close out the game, and they almost blew it. The Mavs cut the deficit to as little as two points when Dallas reserve guard Josh Akognon stole the ball from Telfair and scored with just under a minute to go. However, after a chaotic sequence where the ball was lost by both sides multiple times, Diante Garret was finally able to secure the loose ball and drop it off to Ike Diogu for the game-sealing slam. A pair of Telfair free throws closed out the scoring and gave the Suns the 100-94 win.

Stat Leaders:

Points - Jared Dudley was credited with 16 points on 7-9 shooting, but there's a bit of confusion as two of his baskets may have been scored by Michael Beasley (who officially finished with eight points on 4-10 shooting).

Rebounds - Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat each finished with six boards to lead a very balanced effort on the glass by Phoenix.

Assists - Goran Dragic continues his masterful play with six assists to go with his 12 points in just 18 minutes of playing time.

+/- - Dragic, Dudley and Luis Scola each finished at a +20 to lead the Suns, and that was no coincidence as all three plpayed terrific games and spent much of their court time playing together.

Bad Guys - Chris Kaman led the Mavs with 16 points, but it was Jae Crowder who acted as a thorn in the Suns' side all game long. Crowder finished with 10 points, six assists and 5 steals, and also completely shut down Markieff Morris (who put up an ugly 2-14 shooting line).

Complete Box Score

Final Thoughts:

  • Both Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair played excellent defense on Dallas' starting point guard Darren Collison. The duo held the quick little guard to zero points on 0-2 shooting, although he did finish with six assists.
  • Speaking of the Dragon, that guy is incredible. The more I see of him, the more excited I get for the season to start. That third quarter domination was all on Dragic, as he played a masterful floor game, hitting shots when they were there and setting up teammates when they weren't. You guys already know this, but he;s going to be really good this year.
  • The Suns did a good job on the glass today, and everyone got in the act as the 45 total rebounds were spread out pretty well an seven players finished with four or more caroms. I noticed the Suns crashing the offensive glass pretty hard early on, which is something I'm not used to seeing with this team.
  • Michael Beasley didn't have quite the total game he gave us in the first two preseason games, but he still played pretty well. Early on, Beasley was playing in the flow of the game and looked great. He made some good scoring moves and also pushed the ball up the court and recorded a couple of nice assists in transition. It wasn't until the offense started struggling and he tried to step up and be the creator that he began to struggle as he forced things a little too much.
  • Ike Diogu was the one out of the three auditioning bigs to get the call late in the game, and the veteran did pretty well, scoring four points and hauling in five rebounds in six minutes of playing time. He looks to be the leader in the club house for the 13th active roster spot.
  • Diante Garrett, another roster hopeful, got a bit more burn today, but didn't play as well. However, he did spend more than half his minutes at the two alongside Bassy, which A) shows his versatility and size but also B) doesn't allow Garrett to show what he can do. I'm still a believer in the former Iowa State Cyclone, but he's going to have to play pretty well down the stretch if the Suns are going to keep him as the 15th man.

I'll leave you with this, as I feel it sums things up pretty well:

Great win vs Dallas Mavs!!! Next stop OKC. Let's go #Suns

— Goran Dragic (@Goran_Dragic) October 18, 2012


The Phoenix Suns are in Dallas tonight to take on the Mavericks in the third game of the preseason. Meanwhile, we are all here to watch it (and if you're not, you should be).

Starting lineups are as predicted in the preview:

PHOENIX

PG: Goran Dragic

SG: Jared Dudley

SF: Michael Beasley

PF: Luis Scola

C: Marcin Gortat

Dallas

PG: Darren Collison

SG: O.J. Mayo

SF: Shawn Marion

PF: Elton Brand

C: Chris Kaman

O.J. Mayo is coming off of a big performance for the Mavericks after getting off to a rough start on their trip overseas. Jared Dudley will draw the primary assignment to trying to slow him down. Meanwhile for the Suns, expect to see pleny of back-up point guards Sebastian Telfair and Diante Garret, both of who will play and should see significant court time.


Sorry for getting this up so late guys Technical difficulties. In other words, I'm an idiot. Enjoy the game.


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2-1 baby! Winning record!

When: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m. local time, 7:30 CST and 8:30 EST (For our international readers, you'll have to figure it out on your own)

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Watch/Listen:TV: No TV for this one unless you live in Texas. Radio: 620 KTAR

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Check out my Q&A with Kirk Henderson for more on the Mavericks offseason and all their new additions.

Injury report:

Dirk Nowitzki is dealing with a knee injury and will likely be sitting this game out. He's hoping that rest will do the trick so that he can avoid surgery. Roddy Beaubois will likely miss the game after hurting his ankle in the first preseason game. Delonte West was suspended but has since been reinstated. He will be available tonight, but whether or not he actually plays has yet to be seen.

Shannon Brown has recovered from his eye injury and played in the last game, so he should be good to go for the Suns. Sebastian Telfair was dealing with a couple minor injuries, but is expected to play tonight for the first time this preseason. We all know about Channing Frye at this point.

Probable Starters:

PG: Goran Dragic vs. Darren Collison

Collison has played well for Dallas, and if he can revert to his rookie from than he'll be a solid starting point guard for the Mavs. He's smaller and quicker than Dragic is, but Goran has the size advantage here. Goran's ankle seems to be improving with every game, and he should not be very limited at all tonight.

SG: Jared Dudley vs. O.J. Mayo

Mayo spurned the Suns to sign with Dallas in the offseason, and it sounds like he has appeared more comfortable than he did in Memphis. Jared Dudley has been his typical efficient, consistent self thus far.

SF: Michael Beasley vs. Shawn Marion

Michael Beasley has played very well for Phoenix thus far, but Marion is going to be a big test for him. Even at the ripe old age of 34, he can still defend and rebound with the best of them. Will Beasley take Gentry's words to heart and shoot more? Hopefully not too much so.

PF: Luis Scola vs. Elton Brand

Here we have a match-up of amnesty victims. Both are crafty vets who know how to get the job done and should be solid acquisition for their teams this year.

C: Marcin Gortat vs. Chris Kaman

Gortat is still trying to find his place in the new offense, but even so he's put up two very solid games so far. Kaman has done well for Mavs in his own right. Look for Gortat to get more involved tonight against Kaman.

Reserves to watch:

It sounds like both Sebastian Telfair and Diante Garrett are going to get their first real action tonight. Unfortunately, that means we probably won't see a whole lot of Dragic. But keep an eye on the minute distribution at the point tonight. This is a big game for Garrett who is trying to make the squad as a fourth point guard.

Make sure to have your matches ready if Vince Carter gets out there.

Finally, keep an eye on Markieff Morris. He's been impressive in each of the first two games, but the problems that he had last year popped up again as he struggled shooting in game 1 and dealt with foul trouble in game 2. Hopefully he can put together a total performance tonight.


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