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It will be a tough game for the Suns to win, considering how great Portland is playing lately and how poorly the Suns' starters have been playing. Portland has won three straight games, while Phoenix has lost three straight (and four of five).

When: Tonight, tipoff at 7:12PM AZ Time (Mountain)

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: FSNAZ (locally), NBA League Pass

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns (4-7) try to right the ship against the Portland Trailblazers (5-5) after three free days or workouts and practices.

Alvin Gentry will introduce a new lineup tonight, already tiring of the quintuplet of Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Those guys have generated at least a 10-point deficit at some point in 10 of their first 11 games. Only once this season has the starting unit not been on the floor for a 10+ point deficit, and that was against until-recently-winless Detroit at home. Coincidentally, that was the last time the Suns played effective defense against another team.

On the other hand, the second unit has been dynamite lately. While the starters have dug hole after hole, the second unit has clawed their way out of that hole in all but a couple of games. At least one, if not three of those guys will be rewarded for their efforts with a starting spot tonight.

The Trailblazers, who the Suns beat in the preseason, have exceeded expectations to the tune of a .500 record that includes three-game winning streak against Sacramento, Houston and Chicago. They have also beaten the Lakers and a second time over Houston. Their losses have been to OKC, Dallas, Clippers, Spurs and Hawks.

Rookie PG Damian Lillard (taken 6 spots ahead of Kendall Marshall) has been an impressive, scoring 19 points per game and dishing out 6.1 assists. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the team in scoring (21.1) while J.J. Hickson leads the team in rebounds (10.6). Expect to see a lot of Portland's best players. Four Portland starters average at least 37.5 minutes per game, with J.J. Hickson getting 28.5 minutes.

The History:

  • Suns have won three consecutive games against Portland.
  • The two Suns wins in 2011-12 season were by a combined 43 points.
  • Suns also won the preseason game over Portland, where Damian Lillard played like a lost rookie. Since then, Lillard has been playing much better.
  • In 2010, the Suns won a heated playoff series 4-2 :)

By the Numbers:

2012-2013 OVERALL NBA RANKINGS PER GAME

Points:

Suns: 98.3 (14th) Blazers: 100.4 (7th)

Points Allowed:

Suns: 104.3 (30th) Blazers: 101.8 (28th)

Stats:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
LaMarcus Aldridge 10 38.8 8.4 19.3 43.5 0.0 0.4 0.0 4.3 5.4 79.6 1.7 5.7 7.4 3.6 2.0 0.8 1.4 2.7 21.1
Nicolas Batum 10 39.5 7.2 15.0 48.0 3.1 7.6 40.8 3.3 4.2 78.6 1.5 4.6 6.1 3.1 2.7 2.1 1.2 1.9 20.8
Damian Lillard 10 37.5 6.8 15.2 44.7 2.4 6.2 38.7 3.0 3.6 83.3 0.7 2.5 3.2 6.1 3.3 1.5 0.1 1.9 19.0
Wesley Matthews 10 38.2 5.8 13.2 43.9 2.2 5.4 40.7 2.6 3.9 66.7 0.8 2.6 3.4 2.4 1.8 1.8 0.2 2.9 16.4
J.J. Hickson 10 28.5 4.3 8.8 48.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7 2.6 65.4 4.0 6.6 10.6 0.5 1.8 0.5 0.5 2.0 10.3
Ronnie Price 8 14.6 1.5 3.6 41.4 0.4 1.3 30.0 0.5 0.8 66.7 0.4 1.4 1.8 1.5 0.8 0.6 0.0 3.0 3.9
Meyers Leonard 10 17.4 1.2 2.5 48.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.4 1.6 87.5 1.5 2.4 3.9 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.7 2.3 3.8
Luke Babbitt 5 4.0 0.8 2.0 40.0 0.6 1.6 37.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0.4 0.0 1.2 2.2
Sasha Pavlovic 9 12.8 0.8 2.0 38.9 0.4 1.2 36.4 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.2 1.0 1.2 0.7 0.1 1.0 0.1 1.1 2.0
Nolan Smith 6 5.8 0.7 1.3 50.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 1.5
Joel Freeland 5 6.4 0.2 2.4 8.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 0.8 100.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.2 0.6 1.2
Will Barton 7 5.0 0.4 1.9 23.1 0.1 0.4 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.7 1.1 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.4 1.0
Jared Jeffries 9 8.6 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 50.0 0.7 0.3 1.0 0.3 0.6 0.1 0.1 1.4 0.9
Victor Claver 3 4.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0


Key to a Suns Victory:

Both teams prefer scoring to defending. The key for the Suns is to score more points over the course of the game.

On a more serious note, Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair need to outplay Blazers rookie Damian Lillard on both ends of the court. And Michael Beasley/PJ Tucker need to outwork Nicolas Batum at the SF position. If Lillard and Batum both score their season numbers (combining for nearly 40 points) then this will be a tough game to win.


The Bottom Line:

With Gentry mixing up the lineups, we have no idea what we are going to get tonight. We can only hope that the Suns will play as hard as possible. And when they do, good things tend to happen.


156649943

Alvin Gentry's lineup changes made all the difference tonight for the Suns. Markieff Morris and Shannon Brown played very well as starters, while Jared Dudley made his first big hustle plays of the season as part of the second unit. The Suns shot something like 95% for the game - just as Gentry drew it up.

When: Tonight, tipoff at 7:12PM AZ Time (Mountain)

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: FSNAZ (locally), NBA League Pass

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns (4-7) try to right the ship against the Portland Trailblazers (5-5) after three free days or workouts and practices.

Alvin Gentry will introduce a new lineup tonight, already tiring of the quintuplet of Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Those guys have generated at least a 10-point deficit at some point in 10 of their first 11 games. Only once this season has the starting unit not been on the floor for a 10+ point deficit, and that was against until-recently-winless Detroit at home. Coincidentally, that was the last time the Suns played effective defense against another team.

On the other hand, the second unit has been dynamite lately. While the starters have dug hole after hole, the second unit has clawed their way out of that hole in all but a couple of games. At least one, if not three of those guys will be rewarded for their efforts with a starting spot tonight.

The Trailblazers, who the Suns beat in the preseason, have exceeded expectations to the tune of a .500 record that includes three-game winning streak against Sacramento, Houston and Chicago. They have also beaten the Lakers and a second time over Houston. Their losses have been to OKC, Dallas, Clippers, Spurs and Hawks.

Rookie PG Damian Lillard (taken 6 spots ahead of Kendall Marshall) has been an impressive, scoring 19 points per game and dishing out 6.1 assists. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the team in scoring (21.1) while J.J. Hickson leads the team in rebounds (10.6). Expect to see a lot of Portland's best players. Four Portland starters average at least 37.5 minutes per game, with J.J. Hickson getting 28.5 minutes.

The History:

  • Suns have won three consecutive games against Portland.
  • The two Suns wins in 2011-12 season were by a combined 43 points.
  • Suns also won the preseason game over Portland, where Damian Lillard played like a lost rookie. Since then, Lillard has been playing much better.
  • In 2010, the Suns won a heated playoff series 4-2 :)

By the Numbers:

2012-2013 OVERALL NBA RANKINGS PER GAME

Points:

Suns: 98.3 (14th) Blazers: 100.4 (7th)

Points Allowed:

Suns: 104.3 (30th) Blazers: 101.8 (28th)

Stats:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
LaMarcus Aldridge 10 38.8 8.4 19.3 43.5 0.0 0.4 0.0 4.3 5.4 79.6 1.7 5.7 7.4 3.6 2.0 0.8 1.4 2.7 21.1
Nicolas Batum 10 39.5 7.2 15.0 48.0 3.1 7.6 40.8 3.3 4.2 78.6 1.5 4.6 6.1 3.1 2.7 2.1 1.2 1.9 20.8
Damian Lillard 10 37.5 6.8 15.2 44.7 2.4 6.2 38.7 3.0 3.6 83.3 0.7 2.5 3.2 6.1 3.3 1.5 0.1 1.9 19.0
Wesley Matthews 10 38.2 5.8 13.2 43.9 2.2 5.4 40.7 2.6 3.9 66.7 0.8 2.6 3.4 2.4 1.8 1.8 0.2 2.9 16.4
J.J. Hickson 10 28.5 4.3 8.8 48.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7 2.6 65.4 4.0 6.6 10.6 0.5 1.8 0.5 0.5 2.0 10.3
Ronnie Price 8 14.6 1.5 3.6 41.4 0.4 1.3 30.0 0.5 0.8 66.7 0.4 1.4 1.8 1.5 0.8 0.6 0.0 3.0 3.9
Meyers Leonard 10 17.4 1.2 2.5 48.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.4 1.6 87.5 1.5 2.4 3.9 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.7 2.3 3.8
Luke Babbitt 5 4.0 0.8 2.0 40.0 0.6 1.6 37.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0.4 0.0 1.2 2.2
Sasha Pavlovic 9 12.8 0.8 2.0 38.9 0.4 1.2 36.4 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.2 1.0 1.2 0.7 0.1 1.0 0.1 1.1 2.0
Nolan Smith 6 5.8 0.7 1.3 50.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 1.5
Joel Freeland 5 6.4 0.2 2.4 8.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 0.8 100.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.2 0.6 1.2
Will Barton 7 5.0 0.4 1.9 23.1 0.1 0.4 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.7 1.1 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.4 1.0
Jared Jeffries 9 8.6 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 50.0 0.7 0.3 1.0 0.3 0.6 0.1 0.1 1.4 0.9
Victor Claver 3 4.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0


Key to a Suns Victory:

Both teams prefer scoring to defending. The key for the Suns is to score more points over the course of the game.

On a more serious note, Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair need to outplay Blazers rookie Damian Lillard on both ends of the court. And Michael Beasley/PJ Tucker need to outwork Nicolas Batum at the SF position. If Lillard and Batum both score their season numbers (combining for nearly 40 points) then this will be a tough game to win.


The Bottom Line:

With Gentry mixing up the lineups, we have no idea what we are going to get tonight. We can only hope that the Suns will play as hard as possible. And when they do, good things tend to happen.


Phoenix Suns 114, Portland Trail Blazers 87 PHOENIX — Two home games remain before the Phoenix Suns hit a six-game road trip that, while the opponents make look less daunting on paper, is...

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154043194

When: Tonight, tipoff at 7:12PM AZ Time (Mountain)

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: FSNAZ (locally), NBA League Pass

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns (4-7) try to right the ship against the Portland Trailblazers (5-5) after three free days or workouts and practices.

Alvin Gentry will introduce a new lineup tonight, already tiring of the quintuplet of Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Those guys have generated at least a 10-point deficit at some point in 10 of their first 11 games. Only once this season has the starting unit not been on the floor for a 10+ point deficit, and that was against until-recently-winless Detroit at home. Coincidentally, that was the last time the Suns played effective defense against another team.

On the other hand, the second unit has been dynamite lately. While the starters have dug hole after hole, the second unit has clawed their way out of that hole in all but a couple of games. At least one, if not three of those guys will be rewarded for their efforts with a starting spot tonight.

The Trailblazers, who the Suns beat in the preseason, have exceeded expectations to the tune of a .500 record that includes three-game winning streak against Sacramento, Houston and Chicago. They have also beaten the Lakers and a second time over Houston. Their losses have been to OKC, Dallas, Clippers, Spurs and Hawks.

Rookie PG Damian Lillard (taken 6 spots ahead of Kendall Marshall) has been an impressive, scoring 19 points per game and dishing out 6.1 assists. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the team in scoring (21.1) while J.J. Hickson leads the team in rebounds (10.6). Expect to see a lot of Portland's best players. Four Portland starters average at least 37.5 minutes per game, with J.J. Hickson getting 28.5 minutes.

The History:

  • Suns have won three consecutive games against Portland.
  • The two Suns wins in 2011-12 season were by a combined 43 points.
  • Suns also won the preseason game over Portland, where Damian Lillard played like a lost rookie. Since then, Lillard has been playing much better.
  • In 2010, the Suns won a heated playoff series 4-2 :)

By the Numbers:

2012-2013 OVERALL NBA RANKINGS PER GAME

Points:

Suns: 98.3 (14th) Blazers: 100.4 (7th)

Points Allowed:

Suns: 104.3 (30th) Blazers: 101.8 (28th)

Stats:


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
LaMarcus Aldridge 10 38.8 8.4 19.3 43.5 0.0 0.4 0.0 4.3 5.4 79.6 1.7 5.7 7.4 3.6 2.0 0.8 1.4 2.7 21.1
Nicolas Batum 10 39.5 7.2 15.0 48.0 3.1 7.6 40.8 3.3 4.2 78.6 1.5 4.6 6.1 3.1 2.7 2.1 1.2 1.9 20.8
Damian Lillard 10 37.5 6.8 15.2 44.7 2.4 6.2 38.7 3.0 3.6 83.3 0.7 2.5 3.2 6.1 3.3 1.5 0.1 1.9 19.0
Wesley Matthews 10 38.2 5.8 13.2 43.9 2.2 5.4 40.7 2.6 3.9 66.7 0.8 2.6 3.4 2.4 1.8 1.8 0.2 2.9 16.4
J.J. Hickson 10 28.5 4.3 8.8 48.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7 2.6 65.4 4.0 6.6 10.6 0.5 1.8 0.5 0.5 2.0 10.3
Ronnie Price 8 14.6 1.5 3.6 41.4 0.4 1.3 30.0 0.5 0.8 66.7 0.4 1.4 1.8 1.5 0.8 0.6 0.0 3.0 3.9
Meyers Leonard 10 17.4 1.2 2.5 48.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.4 1.6 87.5 1.5 2.4 3.9 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.7 2.3 3.8
Luke Babbitt 5 4.0 0.8 2.0 40.0 0.6 1.6 37.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0.4 0.0 1.2 2.2
Sasha Pavlovic 9 12.8 0.8 2.0 38.9 0.4 1.2 36.4 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.2 1.0 1.2 0.7 0.1 1.0 0.1 1.1 2.0
Nolan Smith 6 5.8 0.7 1.3 50.0 0.2 0.3 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 1.5
Joel Freeland 5 6.4 0.2 2.4 8.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 0.8 100.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.2 0.6 1.2
Will Barton 7 5.0 0.4 1.9 23.1 0.1 0.4 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.7 1.1 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.1 0.4 1.0
Jared Jeffries 9 8.6 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 50.0 0.7 0.3 1.0 0.3 0.6 0.1 0.1 1.4 0.9
Victor Claver 3 4.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0


Key to a Suns Victory:

Both teams prefer scoring to defending. The key for the Suns is to score more points over the course of the game.

On a more serious note, Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair need to outplay Blazers rookie Damian Lillard on both ends of the court. And Michael Beasley/PJ Tucker need to outwork Nicolas Batum at the SF position. If Lillard and Batum both score their season numbers (combining for nearly 40 points) then this will be a tough game to win.


The Bottom Line:

With Gentry mixing up the lineups, we have no idea what we are going to get tonight. We can only hope that the Suns will play as hard as possible. And when they do, good things tend to happen.


2012114_pjc_as8_338

Whether big or small, SOME kind of change to the Suns starting lineup is coming tonight against Portland. It could be as benign and obvious as swapping Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley. Or it could be as crazy as swapping out the power forward and center too, though a change that sweeping would certainly be a temporary "message" more than a permanent change.

Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry has not yet named a new starting lineup, but he has dropped a couple of ambiguous statements the last couple of days that could be twisted and loosely interpreted as "clues".

"[Morris] can get anything he wants," coach Gentry said about second-year power forward Markieff Morris to suns.com either yesterday or Monday, "If it would make him continue to play well and be as aggressive as he is."

Gentry was not talking about playing time. He was referring to his invitation of Morris for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, and whether Gentry should buy an extra turkey just for his extra-large guest.

Yet, you could twist and turn that comment into a huge vote of confidence for Morris, and even conclude that Gentry would gladly give Marcin Gortat's and Luis Scola's servings of turkey to the Philly boy if he plays well in his new starting role on Wednesday.

But no one would make that leap of faith and logic from such an innocent comment about a national holiday, would they?

"He will be in the game when we need stops," Gentry said of P.J. Tucker, when asked if Tucker's spot-minute role will change going forward.

On the surface, the comment implies that any lineup change would exclude Tucker from consideration. Gentry likes what Tucker brings when they need that extra boost of defense and hustle.

However, one could look closer at the lackluster play of the team when Tucker is NOT in the lineup as well as their last-in-the-league defense, and conclude that Gentry needs Tucker the whole forty-eight minutes. In that scenario, Gentry was telling us that Tucker is not only a starter but he's irreplaceable for even a minute a game.

Right?

"Gortat's 88-game starting streak could end at tipoff against the Trail Blazers" - Paul Coro on azcentral.com

Paul doesn't attribute any quotes or inside information to this statement in his article on azcentral.com after practice yesterday, but Paul always has scoops on player moves before they happen. He called the signing and keeping of fourth-PG Diante Garrett and PF longshot Luke Zeller last month, to name two very recent examples. He also called the drafting of Kendall Marshall and just about every Suns draft pick in the last eight years he covered the team.

Would Gentry actually start Jermaine O'Neal ahead of Marcin Gortat? If so, would that be a permanent change or just a "message" to the Polish Gazelle/Hammer/Machine? Most likely, the latter. O'Neal does not have the stamina to play starters' minutes, so he'd most likely play the Lopez role of 2010-11 - taking up the first few minutes of the first and third quarters, with the rest of the game up to the player working the hardest that night.

"__(crickets)__" - Gentry on the small forward and point guard positions

Neither tongue in cheek nor pointed message have blown in the direction of the small forward (Beasley) or point guard (Dragic) positions in any context since Gentry proclaimed upcoming changes.

One could take that as a sure sign Dragic and Beasley will have their names called tonight.

One could also twist and turn that silence into a sure sign that Gentry can't trust himself to keep a secret, so he's not even mentioning the ACTUAL changes he wants to make tonight.

A few potential starting lineups, then

Dragic/Brown/Beasley/Scola/Gortat

Dragic/Tucker/Beasley/Scola/Gortat

Dragic/Dudley/Tucker/Scola/Gortat

Dragic/Dudley/Johnson/Scola/Gortat

Dragic/Dudley/Beasley/Morris/Gortat

Dragic/Dudley/Beasley/Morris/O'Neal

Dragic/Dudley/Beasley/Scola/O'Neal

Dragic/Brown/Tucker/Morris/Gortat

Dragic/Brown/Tucker/Morris/O'Neal

Telfair/Brown/Tucker/Morris/O'Neal

... (and so on and so on)

We don't know if any of these changes will happen, but SOMETHING will change tonight.

"We'll take one guy or two guys or three guys or four guys out of the lineup, and we'll replace them with other guys who have played and done the same thing," Gentry said. "How many or what we're going to do, I don't know yet, but we're definitely going to do something.

"We've just got to be much more gritty, if you want to use that word, and much more resilient at the start of games."

And then yesterday:

"I think we've got a good feel of what we want to try to do and the reasons that we'll do it," coach Alvin Gentry said. "We'll see if that works and if not, we'll try something else."

Can you guess the new lineup?


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