We are now five games into the 2014-2015 NBA regular season, so naturally it's time to start taking a look at the Hydra experiment the Phoenix Suns are playing with in their guard rotation. Five games constitutes a good enough sample size, right?

While their opening game against the Los Angeles Lakers was glimpse into the future, the four games since then have been anything but rosy.

Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas combined for 57 points, 14 assists, 12 rebounds, and shot a scorching 67% from the field in a combined 72 minutes in that opening win. Coach Hornacek did not have to worry too much about minutes, with Bledsoe getting ejected and Dragic being able to rest in the fourth because the Suns had a 29-point lead late in the third quarter.

But since then, each of them have had bad games (10 points for Thomas in the Jazz game, 6 points for Bledsoe in the Laker rematch, 2 points for Dragic against Memphis). Perhaps the most negatively affected has been Dragic, who was third-team All NBA last year with 20 points and 6 assists on 35 minutes per game.

I'm still looking for my spot. -Goran Dragic

"I try to do what is best for the team," Dragic said after the Memphis loss that dropped the Suns to 3-2 on the season. "If they need me to stand in the corner and try to space, I'm gonna do that. Hopefully, I will find that rhythm. It's the beginning of the season, so it's kind of hard. We still need some time to figure out those things in the next few games."

Whether Ryan McDonough signed Isaiah Thomas as an insurance policy in case things didn't work out with Eric Bledsoe or he fully expected to have a three point guard rotation this season, Jeff Hornacek has been tasked with a difficult coaching situation in finding minutes for Thomas, Bledsoe, and Goran Dragic.  There are 96 minutes to go around for the three guards, but that's not even including Gerald Green. The idea going into the season was simple: a beast of a gyrating point guard rotation that featured three attacking heads. A Hydra.

Since that first game, however, we have not seen such a performance from the holy triumvirate.  Bledsoe, after looking like a man possessed in game one, has looked disengaged at times and was noticeably frustrated in the second matchup with the Lakers. He's been absolutely polarizing, and last night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies was the perfect example, as he simultaneously had a great game and a horrible game by putting up 23 points on 75% shooting with NINE turnovers (Nine times?).  Bledsoe has all the tools and the potential to be an elite defender, and his offensive game is coming together (46% from 3, 60% in the restricted area). He just needs to stay engaged.

Dragic has not looked himself. He threw up a stinker against Memphis, and just can't seem to find his shot.

"I'm still looking for my spot," Dragic said after putting up two points against Memphis. "It's tough but at the same time I try to do what is good for the team. It's different for me this year but hopefully we are going to find that quick."

There seemed to be a lack of focus on defense too, as he lost Courtney Lee (!!) several times. His driving game is still strong (65% in restricted area), but he's throwing up a big fat 0% from three, missing all 11 of his attempts so far.

"I'm shooting the ball bad," he said. "My confidence is not so high, for sure. It's just different looks for me this year than last year, so maybe because of that. I'm working on that, hopefully it's gonna come back." Goran also admitted to seeing more bodies in the lane as the spacing without Channing Frye isn't the same.

A silver lining: The Dragon started off slow last season, too.  He shot 21% from 3 over the first 10 games of the 2013-2014 season, but ended with a juicy 41%.  Dragic will come on eventually.

Isaiah Thomas, though, is really freaking good at basketball and has been the most consistent of the point guards. He's incredibly crafty in the lane, and strong as an ox; the little guy is shooting a bullish 77% from less than 5 feet. Thomas's 8.8 points in the paint per game are 8th amongst guards, and his 4.4 fast break points per game are 9th.  He's throwing up a gnarly 62.3 True Shooting percentage. I think it's safe to say Isaiah Thomas has officially been adopted into the Slash Brothers.

When asked who worries him the most on the Suns, Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said flatly, "Isaiah Thomas". Last week, Gregg Popovich said "Goran Dragic", so maybe it's just a roulette wheel every night.

From a more collective standpoint, it looks like the trio is having some difficulty getting used to each other.  Bledsoe seems to have taken over the main ball-handler duties, but when Dragic took the role against the Lakers, Bledsoe disappeared.

Dragic is more likely just frustrated with his shooting than anything. He has scored in double figures in 4 of 5 games, despite being awful from outside three feet. If he just made his jumpers, his scoring would be similar to last year as well. His usage rate is down slightly from last year. Bledsoe's usage rate is also slightly down (but not much), while Thomas' usage rate is the highest of his career. Thomas has the most to prove, being that he's not a starter, but he will have to pull back a bit to make this work seamlessly.

I.T. mostly plays alongside Green.  Hornacek has played with the Hydra together on the court once or twice most games to varying degrees of success. It worked against the San Antonio Spurs, ending the game on an 8-2 run, but the lineup has struggled to defend and hasn't been used for more than a few minutes at a time.  We've only seen a smattering of this lineup, and Hornacek could still tinker with the other two players, so the jury is still out on this one. Minutes wise, all three players are playing fewer minutes than they respectively did last season. With Bledsoe topping out at 30.5 and Thomas getting the fewest at 25.4, hopefully this does not become an issue. Thomas has been vocal about getting his playing time and wanting to finish games, and Bledsoe didn't seem to keen to be sitting on the bench for large chunks of the second game with the Lakers.

"Someone's always going to be left out," Thomas said last week.

It seems like Hornacek is still figuring out how to balance everything. Even so, the Hydra looked great against the Lakers, and gutted it out against the Spurs. There are moments when the potential shines through.

With the 2014-2015 season still in its premature stages, the Hydra has still looked like a work in progress. At best, it's usually two of the three guards playing well. We want to see King Ghidorah, not the Two-Headed Monster from Sesame Street, dammit. There have been some growing pains, but there's no reason to panic. We've seen how good this trio can be, and as soon as Dragic rounds into form and Bledsoe gets locked in, opponents will have their hands full with the monstrous Hydra lurking in Phoenix. Hail Hydra!

It was a somber affair in the Suns locker room after a loss to the Grizzlies...Here's what the players had to say.

The Phoenix Suns lost to a very good Memphis Grizzlies team at home, following a hard fought win the night before against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road.

Coming into this game, most predicted that the Suns would lose to the Grizzlies who happen to feature one of the best front courts in the league...the tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

It wasn't so much the fact that the Suns lost that seemed to be weighing heavy on everyone's mind, it was more about how they did it.

The Suns were up for most of the first half, and took a fairly large lead in the second quarter, running the Grizzlies off the court to stretch their highest lead to 11 points.

But the Suns started the third quarter sloppily, turning the ball over multiple times and missing shots that the Grizzlies were able to capitalize on by scoring on the other end, to quickly erase the Phoenix lead heading into the second half, and grow one of their own.

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek was asked about what went wrong after the game, to which he replied. "Games aren't always won and lost at the end of the game." He continued, "I felt this one was lost in the third quarter."

"We got careless with the ball and had a lot of turnovers, and they started the third quarter with a bunch of lay-ups." Hornacek continued,  "We didn't even make them earn it.  Their confidence was sky high from that point on, and they don't need the extra confidence, they're a great team."

The bottom line is that the Suns lost a game against a tough Western Conference opponent that they could have won, and that's a tough pill to swallow for all parties involved.

Here are the rest of the videos showing what the players had to say after the loss:

P.J. Tucker mentioned that the Suns loss could be blamed on the Suns not playing their game in the second half, which was certainly a big part of it. The Suns dictated the pace in the first half, but allowed Memphis to control the tempo in the second half.

Isaiah Thomas had already moved on to talking about the next game by the time I caught up with him. He mentioned wanting to beat his old team, the Sacramento Kings on Friday, but that winning against every team is what's most important to him.

Alex Len talked about the physicality of the Grizzlies, and needing to do a better job defensively, and offensively as well.

Goran Dragic probably gave the greatest insight into his struggles thus far, speaking to the adjustments he's having to make playing with less space on the floor, and without the ball in his hands. Some pretty open and honest responses from Goran after a disappointing loss.

The Phoenix Suns and Verizon have agreed to an extension of their existing partnership and will embark on transforming US Airways Center into a "Technology Wonderland."

Have you ever wanted to feel like Alice?

Are you ready to take the red pill?

Then get ready for the new US Airways Center... which won't even be named US Airways Center after a merger with American Airlines.

So get ready for the new (fill in the blank)!

Here on Brightside we actually already took the time to come up with a strong list of potential suitors for new naming rights. Do yourself a favor and go through the comments on the link.

But back to the something "That's Powerful."

Have I piqued your interest? Well, just read on anyway...

The Phoenix Suns will continue their tradition of being ahead of the curve in the information age as they will be "blazing trails in technological innovation to deliver the best experience for fans and players." The Suns were the first team in the NBA to utilize wireless technology by using tablets on the team's bench.  They're prepared to lay waste to those baby steps.

The Phoenix Suns and Verizon have agreed to a multi-year extension that will turn US Airways Center into a "Technology Wonderland." The new agreement is built on a collaborative vision to integrate cutting-edge technology that creates a door-to-door fan experience unlike any other in professional sports.

As part of the extension, the Suns and Verizon will launch a number of unique features within the team's mobile app, implement iBeacons at US Airways Center, and create a "mobile wallet" that will house tickets, arena cash and other fan-friendly features.

So what exactly does this mean?

Here are the some of the changes.

Suns Mobile App

(In the coming weeks) On-demand replays and highlights, live game action from multiple camera angles and content from the Suns digital network (RISE) including postgame shows in collaboration with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.


Fans with GPS and Bluetooth activated will receive push notifications for unique opportunities (such as seat upgrades), in-game experiences and special offers throughout the arena.

Mobile Wallet

Internet based tickets, parking passes and arena cash for concessions and the team shop. This feature may even be expanded to give users exclusive offers as they travel to and from the arena.

Verizon Tablet Center Hung Scoreboard

Here is a photo of the new tabletish incarnation.


Technology Wonderland

A bold claim. I'll be interested to see how this progresses. I'm all about improving technology at live sporting events. Part of the appeal of watching at home is the ability to incorporate aspects that just don't translate to a live experience for me right now. Replay availability is routinely abhorrent in stadiums/arenas, etc. Activities like browsing through statistics, following/watching other games and participating in game threads can be frustrating or impossible. I want a marriage between home technology and live experience

One place comes to mind where I can't even get decent internet signal to look up scores of other games in progress. I won't specifically name the stadium for the sake of not throwing people/organizations/institutions under the bus, but I will give a hint... it's where the Sun Devils play.

These (and further) ameliorations may assuage the masses afflicted with attention deficits and smartphone addictions who absolutely need to access a panoply of mobile applications during every non-crucial break in play.

Including me.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns’ two best offensive outings through five games so far have been against the Los Angeles Lakers, which doesn’t exactly paint a clear picture about where...

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Here's what happened.

First Quarter

Suns start out the game with a shot clock violation due to lack of movement.  Not exactly what you want to see on the first possession.  Dragic got a steal inside on the Grizzlies and passed it to Markieff who hits a mid-range jumper.  The Grizzlies were unable to get anything on the offensive end to start the game, and the Suns were able to capitalize with quick transition baskets from the Morrii on the first three possessions.  Suns jumped out to an early 6-0 lead before Mempis called their first timeout to stop the momentum.

Mike Conley was the first to get on the board for the Grizzlies after the time-out, hitting a jump shot against Bledsoe.  The Suns got a steal but couldn't capitalize, then Memphis answered back with a three from Courtney Lee.  Markieff was able to hit another jumper and Bledsoe hit a three on the following possession, but Courtney Lee once again answered back with a three for Memphis.  Bledsoe did show some aggression with a drive to get to the line, but only converted one of them.  The good news for Phoenix is that Bledsoe is looking much more active than last night, but he will need to hit his shots and free throws to stave off the Grizzlies.

Markieff Morris has been the standout for Phoenix thus far with his shooting, including a three just as the Grizzlies took the lead on a Randolph and-one.  Memphis is making the most of their shot opportunities though, and getting good looks on the perimeter and drives to the basket inside to stay ahead of Phoenix.

Alex Len and P.J. Tucker checked in for the Suns at the four minute mark to replace Miles Plumlee and Marcus Morris, respectively.  What Phoenix lacks in size, they are making up for with active hands on defense, already grabbing four steals which have helped keep them in it thus far.

Isaiah Thomas checked in with two minutes remaining for Dragic, but Bledsoe remains the aggressor for the guards, and already has 12 points of off timely jump shots and aggressive drives to the basket...a very different looking Bledsoe than the one who played in L.A. last night.  Alex Len picked up two quick fouls guarding Gasol...He needs to stay out of foul trouble to give the Suns a chance tonight.

At the end of the first quarter, the Suns lead the Grizzlies 27-26.  Eric Bledsoe is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.  For Memphis, Mike Conley leads a very balanced scoring distribution with his 6 points and 2 assists.  The Suns are shooting 78.6% from the field, vs. 52.6% for Memphis.  They are leading in rebounding 8-4, but also have 6 turnovers compared to 4 for the Grizzlies.

Second Quarter

The Suns started the second quarter with Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Anthony Tolliver, and Alex Len.  Vince Carter drove to the basket for the first points of the second quarter for the Grizzlies.  Gerald Green got off to a quick start hitting his first shot, then getting to the foul line where he converted both on the next possession.

Anthony Tolliver attempted a three, but it was way off...luckily, the Suns were able to get their hands on the ball once again and Isaiah Thomas was able to hit the jumper to keep Phoenix in the lead.  Gerald Green is playing aggressively and driving the lane, as he gets fouled again on the next possession for another trip to the line.  Green hits both and now has 6 points in three minutes to start the second quarter.

Tolliver hits a three after missing his first two, then Gerald Green quickly hits a three as well on the next possession to help the Suns jump out to a 41-32 lead halfway through the second quarter...this is their biggest lead of the game thus far.  Once again, it's the Suns bench extending the lead and causing the most problems for the opponent.

Isaiah made an excellent drive against an overly aggressive Quincy Pondexter, to take him to the hoop and score with an acrobatic finish at the rim...beautiful.

With 5 minutes to go in the first half, the Suns bring back Bledsoe, Markieff, and Plumlee, but keep Isaiah and Green who are once again making a huge difference on the court.  Plumlee gets a great assist at the rim and tries to go up for the monster dunk, but blows it by hitting the front of the rim.  He then fouls Gasol on back to back possessions, picking up his second and third fouls.

This is when the Suns start to blow it.  Randolph gets a bucket inside for the Grizzlies, Pondexter hits a three, and then Conley scores an and-one all in a row to suddenly whittle down the Suns lead to just three, as the Suns now are barely holding onto the lead 43-40.

Thomas hits a big three on the next possession though off a beautiful drive-and-kick by Dragic to once again go up six.  Markieff hits a jumper for the Suns, but Gasol is able to answer back for Memphis. Bledsoe then gets an outlet pass that he converts at the rim on an acrobatic drive, then gets another steal where he passes it out to Keef open for three who is bulldozed over by Randolph...ouch.

The Suns and Grizzlies went back and fourth a few more times, but the Suns were able to hold their six point lead to end the half.

At the end of the first half, the Suns lead the Grizzlies 52-46.  Eric Bledsoe is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.  For Memphis, Mike Conley leads in scoring with 13 points and 3 assists.  The Suns are shooting 55.9% from the field, vs. 48.6% for Memphis.  They are leading in rebounding 17-14, and also have 8 steals compared to 3 for the Grizzlies.  THe Grizzlies are leading in points in the paint however, with 22 compared to 16 for Phoenix.

Third Quarter

Bledsoe opens up the third quarter with a three...he's now a perfect 7/7 from the field and has 19 points.  Unfortunately, Mike Conley answers back with a three for the Grizzlies as well.  Plumlee bricked another hook shot over Gasol, but was quick enough to grab his own rebound and get the put back lay-in for his first points of the game.

Randolph is fouled on an and-one and misses the free throw, but it's grabbed by Memphis who kicks it out to Conley who drains the three....five point play for Memphis.  Suns turn the ball over and Courtney Lee hits a jumper.  Just like that, the Grizzlies take the lead 60-59.  Timeout Phoenix.

It gets worse on the next possession with yet another turnover that leads to a fast break basket by Conley...Then Markieff misses a three and Gasol gets another basket at the rim.  With the Suns down 64-59, they turn the ball over again, but Memphis fortunately misses.  Hornacek puts Isaiah Thomas in for Dragic to try to bring some scoring back.

Thomas gets a steal and is able to find Markieff who makes the basket for an and-one, but can't convert at the line.  Fortunately, the ball is tapped out of bounds and Phoenix gets it back, and Thomas is able to score off a beautiful drive to the basket.  Bledsoe then explodes to the rim on the next possession and gets the lay-up to retake the lead 65-64, but Tony Allen gets an outlet pass for a fast break off a Phoenix miss to retake the lead with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Randolph also scores on the next possession, and then Courtney Lee with a jumper to extend the lead to five for Memphis.  Bledsoe and Marcus now take a seat as Green and Tucker enter the game for the Suns.  But Suns still can't make a shot, and Lee once again hits a three to push the Grizzlies lead up to 8 at one point.  The Suns continue missing shots and even a fast break by Thomas rolls off the rim.  Alex Len gets to the line to end the quarter where he hits both free throws to score his first points of the game.

The Suns led by as much as 11 at one point, but that is long gone.  They need to turn things around quickly before Memphis pulls further away.

At the end of the first quarter, the Suns trail the Grizzlies 76-71.  Eric Bledsoe is the leading scorer for Phoenix with 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.  For Memphis, Mike Conley leads with his 21 points and 7 assists.  The Suns are now shooting 49% from the field, vs. 50.8% for Memphis.  They are also behind in rebounding now, 27-26, and also have 15 turnovers compared to 13 for the Grizzlies.

Fourth Quarter

Tucker drives to the basket for a quick two to start the fourth for the Suns.   Pondexter answers back with a three for Memphis though when the Suns didn't rotate in time to cover him.  Green gets fouled on a shot attempt and hits both, andBledsoe comes back into the line-up for Thomas to give him some rest.

P.J. Tucker is grabbing some tough rebounds for the Suns here in the fourth to try to get them back in it...but they are struggling to make their shots.

Suns call timeout with 9 minutes remaining in the game, down 81-75.  If the Suns are going to make a run to get back in control of this game, they need to do it now.

Memphis continued hitting shots inside with regularity, and the Suns continued missing most of theirs.  Instead of climbing back into this, the Suns are falling farther behind as the Grizzlies now seem to have all the momentum and appear in complete control with only 6 minutes remaining.  The Suns are now down 87-77.

Timeout Suns...It's now or never.

The Grizzlies just keep pounding away though, as Gasol hits a basket and the foul for an and-one.  The Suns are running out of answers and down by 13, their largest deficit of the game.

But just when it looked like all was lost, Tucker hits a three, Memphis misses both free throws at the line, and then Markieff nails the open three to bring the Suns back from the dead...at least a little.  The Suns are now trailing by only 7 points with 4:30 left in the game. Timeout Memphis.

Courtney Lee hit a three to  answer right back for Memphis and quiet the crowd back down, who were given hope by the Suns sudden barrage of points that they desperately needed.  Memphis once again was in control of the game and stopping the Suns offensively enough to maintain their lead.

An and-one drive to the basket was enough to start emptying the crowd out of the arena with over two minutes left and Memphis leading by 11 points.

The Suns tried multiple times to get back in it, but were ultimately unsuccessful.  They lost a lead that they built by half-time and fell apart completely in the second half of the game.  Memphis is too good of a team to let back in the way that Phoenix did in the third quarter, and it ended up costing them.

Game Over

The Suns lose to the Grizzlies 102-91 .  Eric Bledsoe was the leading scorer for Phoenix with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.  For Memphis, Mike Conley led all scorers with 24 points and 11 assists.  The Suns shot 46.4% from the field, vs. 50% for Memphis.  They lost the rebounding battle 37-35, and also the points in the paint to the Grizzlies, 46-32.

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