PHOENIX — Entering the season, many expected the Phoenix Suns to struggle for a variety of reasons, including defensive rebounding, a weak bench, a lack of a go-to scorer and the inconsistency...

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Final - 10.31.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Golden State Warriors 25 23 17 22 87
Phoenix Suns 21 21 25 18 85

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Jared Dudley and Luis Scola missed really clean shots in the final minute, while the Warriors' Carl Landry once again was a pest to the Phoenix Suns, scoring 10 points in the 4th quarter alone. He was wide open on most of them while the Suns over-rotated again and again, leaving Landry under the basket.

"We had a chance to win the game," Jared Dudley said. "This game's about making plays in the fourth. We had multiple good looks at the basket.

"I had chances to make the shots to tie or take the lead, and wasn't able to do it tonight."

The final minute played out painfully for Suns fans, with the Suns missing opportunities and the Warriors just barely holding on.

For the Suns, P.J. Tucker kept the Suns alive with 10 fourth-quarter points, including 8 straight when the Suns really needed them (the only Suns points for more than 6 minutes), along with really spirited, effective defense the whole game.

"We fought, man," Tucker said. "We kind of started off slow, but we fought back at the end. I like the way we kept the energy up.

"(The Warriors) have a lot of guys who can rebound the ball, and for the guards to dig down and help keep the bigs off the boards is really huge."

Goran Dragic played great most of the night (17 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a block), as did Luis Scola (15, 11, 3 steals and 3 blocks) and Marcin Gortat (10, 9 and FIVE blocks). But it was Tucker who delivered the most energy to the Suns while Dragic did not finish the game with the same verve that he played the rest of the night.

After leading 74-66 early in the 4th quarter by making Golden State look like they were melting down, the Suns took their foot off the gas (missed open shots) and were outscored 21-11 the rest of the way.

Eerily, the circumstances of the game were reminiscent of recent Suns teams - okay start by the starters, bad second quarter by the bench, starters reclaim a small lead in the third, bench holds the lead and extends it for a while before fading, and then inexplicably the starters come back flat to finish the game.

And there were even similarities to the Suns first game last year. At home, losing by two to what had been a poor team the prior year. The game devolving into a slugfest, neither team topping 90 points. And Dudley missing the winner/tying shot in the final seconds.

I mean, seriously. *smh*

But at least this game had PJ Tucker. Until Luis Scola made a turnaround bank shot late in the fourth, PJ Tucker's 8 points had been the Suns' only points for a 6:47 stretch.

Even so, the Suns had fought back valiantly to even take that lead - so let's recognize that now.

Goran Dragic began to turn it on in the second half with the Suns trailing by as many as 10 points, providing strong defense and offense to keep the Suns within striking distance. He pushed the ball every chance he got and stuck to his man like glue. He got two official steals and several "almosts".

Then the rest of the team followed. Gortat started hitting shots in addition to his stellar defense. Beasley made a few shots and had a great block on a drive on the other end (one of TEN by 3 minutes left in the third) before the Tucker show returned. The Warriors helped out by missing a lot of layups, and getting others blocked (Suns had 10 blocks).

First half

This first half was much worse than the second.

The Suns got beat in every way early in the second quarter. David Lee helped Golden State stretch a 4-point lead to 15 in the first four minutes, but he wasn't alone. Brandon Rush made everything he put up and finished with 14 of the Warriors' 26 bench points in the first half. (The Suns, by contrast, had 4.) Most of them were on athletic drives to the basket. The Suns had 10 turnovers in the first 16 minutes, not surprisingly allowing 42 Warrior points to that same point. That's a 126-point pace! Obviously, not going to cut it in the NBA.

Once the starters came back, it got any better. PJ Tucker came in with the starters (in place of Beasley, who had "contributed" to the Suns' slow second-quarter start) and they cut the lead to 10 on 7 straight points by Scola, including his first three-pointer of the season (and only the second of his career). The teams got stuck at 46-36 for the next, like, half an hour as the play got sloppier and sloppier and defenses got scrappier and scrappier.

Eventually the Suns cut it to 6 at halftime, finishing the quarter on a 13-2 run.

Microcosm of the first half: Michael Beasley played the first 8 minutes of the first quarter, and the first 4 minutes of the second. The Suns were outscored by 14 in those minutes (11 of that in the second quarter). By contrast, the Suns outscored the Warriors by 9 with PJ Tucker on the court, in only 8 minutes.

Summary:

This is the way the first game of the season goes. Everyone was breathing hard by halftime, gassed by the end of the fourth.

Dragic was the Suns best player through the first three quarters (16, 8, 5, 2, 2). He would have had more assists if his guys had made their open shots in the first half (looking at you, Marcin!). But Dragic looked gassed in the fourth, as did the rest of the Suns' starters. He contributed only 1 point and 1 assist in the last 6 minutes. Let's hope that's just a factor of getting in shape.

'We fought," Dragic said. "We played good a couple minutes, but then our concentration went bad. We had good looks. In the fourth quarter, we had four or five open shots but overall didn't shoot the ball well."

Dudley made his first three-pointer, and four of his first five shots in the first quarter. He went 0-7 the rest of the way, including 0-5 on threes, that really could have made a difference.

Michael Beasley had a bad game, no question. Tucker played well enough to make us forget Beasley's badness, but B-Easy contributed to the 17-point deficit.

'We were fighting uphill the whole game," said Gentry, in reference to the entire team's slow start. "We looked like a team with nine new players.

"But I really, really feel we're going to be a good team."


The Phoenix Suns released their official intro video for the 2012-13 season.


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The Phoenix Suns dropped their season opener at home to the Warriors. It wasn't pretty. Work in progress.




Both teams are entering the season with new optimism. The Phoenix Suns have basically started over, rebooting their hopes and dreams with a new starting point guard and small forward to replace you-know-who and you-know-who-else. In addition, there's a new starting power forward to replace the enlarged-hearted incumbent.

Beginning tonight, the Suns will trot out a healthy Opening Night lineup that doesn't boast Steve Nash and Grant Hill as two of the starters for the first time in six years.

Beginning tonight, the Suns will trot out an Opening Night starting point guard with boring hair for the first time in nine years.

For the first time in just as many years, the offense's production will be unpredictable.

Goran Dragic will run the point for the Suns, while Michael Beasley takes over the starting small forward position. At power forward, Luis Scola takes over for the injured Channing Frye. Only Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley return from last year's opening night lineup that lost to the eventual winner of the #1 over draft pick, New Orleans Hornets.

Oh yeah, remember that night? The Suns coulda won that game, but the Hornets scrapped and clawed and eventually pulled out the victory on the wings of a last-second miss by Jared Dudley. The game was painful to watch. Despite the Suns returning all their starters from a strong finish the prior season, they looked lethargic and unsure of their bearings. Sure, players were out of shape from the lockout, but it's not like the Hornets had any more time to prepare for the season than the Suns.

Let's hope that general malaise does not return this season.

Tonight, the Suns face the open-and-down Warriors, who defeated the Suns handily in Cali last week to the tune of a 15-point win. Were the Suns playing possum? Yes, of course they were! (say Suns fans).

Check out a Q n A I did with Nate at Golden State of Mind for more details on the Warriors.

Notes:

  • The Suns entire lineup and bench are healthy entering the season
  • The Warriors entire projected starting lineup will play tonight, with Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry practicing fully yesterday for the first time in a while.
  • Don't expect Bogut to start or play many minutes - he hasn't played competitive 5-on-5 basketball against another team in several months
  • Watch out for Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson to light it up - they are a very strong, long and young wing rotation
Warriors roster:

The season is upon us, folks!

Let's get to it!


Golden State Warriors 87, Phoenix Suns 85 Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here. After a seemingly interminable offseason highlighted by “Gangam Style” parody videos, the downfall of Lance...

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