After one of the more eventful summers in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns finally got back to the business of basketball Wednesday night against the Kings. For the first 12 minutes, it appeared...

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The Phoenix Suns lost their first game of the preseason tonight 102-96 to the Sacramento Kings. DeMarcus Cousins lead the way for the Kings with 21 points and 9 rebounds, while Michael Beasley had the Suns' best all-around game (stats below).

The game started out promising enough with the Suns scoring 30 points in the first quarter, including 10 by Michael Beasley. Goran Dragic finished the first quarter with four assists and one basket.

Then the bench unit came in and, as is usually the way, the Suns struggled to score. They got only 18 points in the second quarter (11 of them by Wesley Johnson) and went into halftime with a one-point deficit.

DeMarcus Cousins loves playing the undersized Suns, dominating in the paint and on the glass.

The Kings beat the Suns to most loose balls in the second half, most pointedly at the end of the third quarter where the Kings got 4 straight offensive possessions, though somehow the Kings didn't score.

So the Kings just kept trying for more 4-shot possessions and got a few. Overall, the Kings outrebounded the Suns bigtime in the second half. On top of that, the Suns were falling for pump fakes,or not reacting in time to actual shot attempts. Just guessing wrong most of the time.

Kendall Marshall played like a rookie, missing his open jump shots and allowing himself to get rattled a bit with pressure. But more than anything, Marshall did not make an attempt to take over the game.

Most of the Suns looked like they didn't know exactly which plays would work and which would not, which is to be expected in a new offense. Especially amongst the non-starters who have not established themselves in the NBA yet.

Sacramento got a lot of rebounds, both offensive and defensive. They are long and Cousins is thick, as is Chuck Hayes (though he is not tall).

Kings went on a 16-5 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter, playing such luminaries as James Johnson, Chuck Hayes, Thomas Robinson, Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons to take a 15-point lead. Ouch. To be fair, the Suns were playing youngsters and new players to the team.

Offensive rebounds. Layups. Dunks. Transition buckets. Offensive rebounds. Transition buckets. Offensive rebounds.

The Suns just didn't come out ready to play in the second half.

Stats:
• Wes Johnson has a good game:, scoring 18 points on 7/15 shooting
Markieff Morris played well in spurts, with 16 points and 7 rebounds (though only 5/13 from the floor)
• Kendall Marshall couldn't make a shot (1/5 with a layup) and had but 4 assists (though teammates missing shots didn't help him) and 3 turnovers in 28 minutes
• Michael Beasley played only in the first and third quarter, getting 14 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals (along with 3 turnovers) in 24 minutes.
• PJ Tucker got himself 7 rebounds (tied with 2 others for team lead) and 2 steals before getting a stinger in the shoulder and having to leave in the 4th. He also played spirited defense on the perimeter. He could be a good sparkplug as long as you don't want him to score (0/6 from the field).
• Goran Dragic played only 15 minutes after collecting 4 fouls in the first half. He scored 7 points in rapid succession in the third period, briefly giving the Suns the lead. Their last lead. For the game: 9 pts, 4 assists, 3 turnovers.
• Jermaine O'Neal had 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks in 18 minutes - similar to the last backup C.
Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola did not play a whole lot, and did not impact the game much while they were in there (16 pts, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in a combined 47 minutes)
• Overall, the Suns shot just 41% from the field and 65% on free throws.


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Suns came out sluggish from halftime, let Kings build 15-point lead before each team went even deeper into their bench.

In a battle of two teams that national media believes will battle it out for worst in the West, the Phoenix Suns open their preseason schedule on Wednesday night in Sacramento.

First of all, the good news: it appears that NBATV will carry the Suns/Kings preseason game, at least to fans in the local Phoenix area!

Even if you don't have NBATV or if you live somewhere it's not shown, you know there's live footage out there somewhere...

Now to the game preview. Let's talk Sacramento Kings first.

If you thought the Suns had concerns coming into the season, take a look at the Kings. They have a lot of young talent (DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Thomas Robinson, Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas) but very few starting positions locked up. Most of the team returns from last season after showing a great ability to score (6th highest) bettered only by their ability to allow the opponent to score (30th overall, out of 30).

#5 overall pick Thomas Robinson is trying beat out incumbent Jason Thompson at power forward, who some Suns fans have coveted for years. Robinson is slightly undersized - in the way that Markieff Morris is undersized, which is to say only slightly and only against a handful of opponents - but is still learning the game and may not be trustworthy in a starting position on day one for a team with aspirations to win more than 30 games.

Jason Thompson is a tall, skilled big man who just hasn't been able to turn it on consistently yet. Per Hollinger, he is too small to defend the 5, too slow to defend the 4, and has a very limited offensive game. With all the opportunity in the world to play big minutes for a struggling Sacramento team, he has played 26 and 31 minutes per game the last two years and averaged 12 and 8 with 4 fouls per contest.

James Johnson (formerly of Chicago via Toronto) is still trying to turn his excellent physical skills into a starting small forward job ahead of journeyman Travis Outlaw (formerly of Portland via the Clippers and Nets). Neither has shown the recent ability to start for a winning NBA team, but neither have either of the Suns' small forwards Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson.

At shooting guard, the Kings return a pair of undersized shooters (Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette) and an immensely talented bulldog in Tyreke Evans. Evans may start this season at small forward - you've already seen the competition - or may move high-scoring, defensive sieve Marcus Thornton to a bench role at shooting guard. It appears his days as the starting point guard are over.

Speaking of point guard, little Isaiah Thomas returns to electrify the crowd with scoring and shooting but little else, while being pushed for starting minutes by former Sun Aaron Brooks. Brooks has not gotten a lot of press in the preseason, but I'm sure we will see a lot of the "big" guy (compared to Isaiah Thomas) on Wednesday night.

Of course, at center there's DeMarcus Cousins, the main reason for optimism in Sacramento. He is a force of nature who just needs to keep his head on straight and could be one of the best in the game. But can he lead his team to victory on a regular basis? Who knows. Backing him up are Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson.

Now, let's talk about the Phoenix Suns.

Or, as Tom Ziller of SacTownRoyalty.com puts it: "This is the new Pacific Division foe: Nashless, rolling in the cellar with us."

Things I will be watching for:

  • Will the Suns fight hard as a team, or just go through the motions? The sense I got from these guys is that they are fighters, especially since there's no alpha male leading the way anymore. Everyone wants to earn minutes.
  • Do the Suns crash the offensive boards like they say they want to? Sacramento is a really long team (though not thick) and good at rebounding, and they added rebound-extraordinaire Thomas Robinson in the draft. Can the Suns fight it out for equal rebounds?
  • How does Wesley Johnson fit into this offense? Will he just take contested jumpers, or will he be active?
  • Ditto for Michael Beasley.
  • How will Markieff Morris look against similar competition in Jason Thompson and Thomas Robinson? There won't be a size issue here - all three guys are lighter than Zach Randolph, for example.
  • How will Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley play? Inspired? Or just waiting for the season to get closer?
  • How about you guys and gals? What are you looking for?
"They work extremely hard," coach Alvin Gentry said after practice on Tuesday. "I will say that. It's been very competitive. I think everyone looks around and realizes the guy behind me is going to be pushing me, and I'm going to have to execute and play well."

"Just applying it to a different team finally for the first time in six or seven weeks is great for us," forward Michael Beasley said. "We get to really see how we act under pressure."

Pressure is relative, I guess. It's only the first preseason game. But hey, it's better than practice!


PHOENIX — Now and again, it’s healthy to get a little nostalgic. Well, maybe that’s only partly true. Because as I went to search for the so-called defensive glory days of Suns...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
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In a battle of two teams that national media believes will battle it out for worst in the West, the Phoenix Suns open their preseason schedule on Wednesday night in Sacramento.

First of all, the good news: it appears that NBATV will carry the Suns/Kings preseason game, at least to fans in the local Phoenix area!

Even if you don't have NBATV or if you live somewhere it's not shown, you know there's live footage out there somewhere...

Now to the game preview. Let's talk Sacramento Kings first.

If you thought the Suns had concerns coming into the season, take a look at the Kings. They have a lot of young talent (DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Thomas Robinson, Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas) but very few starting positions locked up. Most of the team returns from last season after showing a great ability to score (6th highest) bettered only by their ability to allow the opponent to score (30th overall, out of 30).

#5 overall pick Thomas Robinson is trying beat out incumbent Jason Thompson at power forward, who some Suns fans have coveted for years. Robinson is slightly undersized - in the way that Markieff Morris is undersized, which is to say only slightly and only against a handful of opponents - but is still learning the game and may not be trustworthy in a starting position on day one for a team with aspirations to win more than 30 games.

Jason Thompson is a tall, skilled big man who just hasn't been able to turn it on consistently yet. Per Hollinger, he is too small to defend the 5, too slow to defend the 4, and has a very limited offensive game. With all the opportunity in the world to play big minutes for a struggling Sacramento team, he has played 26 and 31 minutes per game the last two years and averaged 12 and 8 with 4 fouls per contest.

James Johnson (formerly of Chicago via Toronto) is still trying to turn his excellent physical skills into a starting small forward job ahead of journeyman Travis Outlaw (formerly of Portland via the Clippers and Nets). Neither has shown the recent ability to start for a winning NBA team, but neither have either of the Suns' small forwards Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson.

At shooting guard, the Kings return a pair of undersized shooters (Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette) and an immensely talented bulldog in Tyreke Evans. Evans may start this season at small forward - you've already seen the competition - or may move high-scoring, defensive sieve Marcus Thornton to a bench role at shooting guard. It appears his days as the starting point guard are over.

Speaking of point guard, little Isaiah Thomas returns to electrify the crowd with scoring and shooting but little else, while being pushed for starting minutes by former Sun Aaron Brooks. Brooks has not gotten a lot of press in the preseason, but I'm sure we will see a lot of the "big" guy (compared to Isaiah Thomas) on Wednesday night.

Of course, at center there's DeMarcus Cousins, the main reason for optimism in Sacramento. He is a force of nature who just needs to keep his head on straight and could be one of the best in the game. But can he lead his team to victory on a regular basis? Who knows. Backing him up are Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson.

Now, let's talk about the Phoenix Suns.

Or, as Tom Ziller of SacTownRoyalty.com puts it: "This is the new Pacific Division foe: Nashless, rolling in the cellar with us."

Things I will be watching for:

  • Will the Suns fight hard as a team, or just go through the motions? The sense I got from these guys is that they are fighters, especially since there's no alpha male leading the way anymore. Everyone wants to earn minutes.
  • Do the Suns crash the offensive boards like they say they want to? Sacramento is a really long team (though not thick) and good at rebounding, and they added rebound-extraordinaire Thomas Robinson in the draft. Can the Suns fight it out for equal rebounds?
  • How does Wesley Johnson fit into this offense? Will he just take contested jumpers, or will he be active?
  • Ditto for Michael Beasley.
  • How will Markieff Morris look against similar competition in Jason Thompson and Thomas Robinson? There won't be a size issue here - all three guys are lighter than Zach Randolph, for example.
  • How will Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley play? Inspired? Or just waiting for the season to get closer?
  • How about you guys and gals? What are you looking for?
"They work extremely hard," coach Alvin Gentry said after practice on Tuesday. "I will say that. It's been very competitive. I think everyone looks around and realizes the guy behind me is going to be pushing me, and I'm going to have to execute and play well."

"Just applying it to a different team finally for the first time in six or seven weeks is great for us," forward Michael Beasley said. "We get to really see how we act under pressure."

Pressure is relative, I guess. It's only the first preseason game. But hey, it's better than practice!


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