The Suns used an 18-5 run in the first quarter to build a lead over Portland which they never surrendered the rest of the game en route to a 104-93 victory at USAC. The Blazers looked completely overmatched by the Suns' starters for most of the time they were pitted against each other on the court.
The flow of the game was improved from the match against the Kings and the Suns got the fans tacos by breaking the triple digit barrier on 51.2% shooting including 10-20 from three point range. The Suns defense also held their own, holding the Blazers to 38.6% shooting including a 6-24 effort in the first quarter when the Suns set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Suns had another stellar start to the game. They shot 61.1% for the first quarter, including 5-7 from three, and led the disjointed Blazers 28-15.
Scola made several velvety smooth moves around the basket in the early going. He seems to be adapting well and finished with 12 points in just 18 minutes.
Dragic made Lillard look like a rookie.
Brown was strong off the bench, battling through a severe case of "Halloween Eye" to the tune of 12, 4, and 4.
Wes Johnson continued to hoist from outside and was 3-4 from three point range on the way to 12 points. He also pulled down six rebounds.
Auditioning Suns Luke Zeller and Ike Diogu both played well in limited minutes. P.J. Tucker was a hellion in very brief exposure.
Meyers Leonard played above the rim most of the night as he scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds (seven offensive).
Gortat pitched a shutout in the first half and look confused at times. He redeemed himself by scoring seven quick points to start the third quarter and looked more into the flow of the game.
The Suns got owned by Portland on the offensive glass. Leonard led the way with seven as the Blazers secured a dominant 17-9 edge.
Lillard made Marshall look like a rookie.
Morris picked up four fouls in just 3:47 in the first half. He also acquitted himself with a more cautious approach in the second half and finished with a team high 14 points to go with five rebounds.
LaMarcus Aldridge on offense. He was constantly stultified (the Blazer fans don't seem to be smitten with that word) by pesky, incessant defense and double teams. He looked visibly frustrated at times on the way to a poor 4-13 shooting night.
Player of the Game:
Goran Dragic. Many of his nine assists were of the highlight reel variety and he pummeled Lillard in the individual match up. Welcome to the NBA rook.
Comment of the Night:
Can we just sign Zeller, Diogu AND Garret? Rotate them in and out of the D-League. Zeller is a nice stretch big. Garret could be worth developing. And Diogu... well, I just really like Ike.
"I thought we were passive at the beginning of the game. The Suns came out and were the more aggressive team and we got in a hole," said Portland coach Terry Stotts on his team's performance tonight. "We fought back; we got to seven or six a few times, but couldn't quite get over the hump. I was disappointed in the first six minutes where the Suns set the tone for the game."
"We had no energy tonight, sloppy a little bit," said Batum. "Maybe sometimes we get a little bit tired but there are no excuses."
"We started real well. On offense and defense we controlled the game. We still have a long ways to go," said Dragic. "We need that second unit to come off the bench and give us that extra energy and play as hard as possible."
Suns lead 53-46 at the half. Goran Dragic looks completely in control and has four points, fives assists and four rebounds in 15 minutes. Luke Zeller has been interesting and the Suns are 8-12 from three.
The rookie Marshall looked lost. The Polish Gazelle is still grazing. Michael Beasley is passing and Wes Johnson is smoooth.
Sebastian Telfair was expected to make his preseason debut for the Phoenix Suns on Friday night after missing the team's first game Wednesday with what had been described as a minor wrist injury. Just about hour before tip in Friday night, it's now reported that "Bassy" will be held out of this game as well.
Telfair was slated to return for tonight's preseason game but Gentry said he has been scratched again due to the bruise above his wrist.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) October 13, 2012
Telfair played significant minutes for the Suns last season so his coach has a pretty good idea what to expect from the veteran backup point guard. The late scratch opens up more minutes for rookie Kendall Marshall to play behind starter, Goran Dragic at point.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on NBA TV.
When: Friday, October 12, 2012, 7:00 PM local time (10:00 EST)
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Watch/Listen: TV: NBATV, Radio: 620 KTAR
Portland Trail Blazers 1-0 (preseason)
The Blazers have completely overhauled their roster this offseason with a decided slant towards an injection of youth (sound familiar?). In Portland's first preseason game LaMarcus Aldridge (26) was the "veteran" of a starting unit that included Wesley Matthews (25), Hickson (23), Nicolas Batum (23), and Lillard (22). The reserves are led by two young bigs, Leonard and Freeland, accompanied by veteran journeymen Morrison, Jeffries, Pavlovic and Price.
Aldridge and Lillard led the way in Portland's 93-75 win over the Lakers, with 14 points each. Lillard was particularly impressive in his rookie debut as he augmented his scoring output with seven assists and five rebounds. The Blazers starters played well as a group and Portland used a 16-4 third quarter run to separate themselves from Los Angeles. The Blazers' other lottery pick, Leonard, and Adam Morrison (yes, Adam Morrison) both made an impact off the bench.
The only bad thing about a game between the Lakers and the Blazers is that they both can't lose.
Phoenix Suns 0-1 (preseason)
Injured: Channing Frye (out indefinitely), Shannon Brown (Halloween eye)
The Suns also retooled over the summer by adding a mix of savvy veterans (Scola and O'Neal) to complement their own infusion of youth (with varying degrees of polish vs promise). The Suns only return five players from last season's roster so the preseason will be of paramount importance as the coaches assess the effectiveness of different rotations and evaluate battles for playing time and roster spots.
The Suns kicked off the preseason with a game in Sacramento against the Kings. The starters played effectively to start the game as the Suns ran off 30 first quarter points. Michael Beasley was the best player on the court for the Suns as he demonstrated an ability to distribute (team high five assists) and score (14 points). The bench chipped in as Wesley Johnson led the team with 18 points and Markieff continued his aggressive play from the summer league with 16 points and seven rebounds of his own. Overall, there were many positive takeaways from the game despite the fact that the Suns lost. To the Kings. Sacramento used a 14-2 fourth quarter run to salt the game away, but it was encouraging to see that a lineup headlined by Marshall, Morris and Johnson kept playing until the last whistle.
What to watch for:
Dragic vs Lillard - This forecasts as a matchup we might get the pleasure of watching to for years to come. It would be an auspicious start to the head-to-head if Goran can give the rookie a proper introduction to the NBA.
Beasley & Johnson - Is the first game anomalous or an auger of a disturbing trend? Beasley and Johnson both played well in the first preseason game, but they combined for 21 shots from 18 feet out compared to only three from inside that mark. They shot at a high percentage, going 4-11 from three point range and 6-10 on shots between 18-21 feet, but there needs to be more balance in their games. Keep an eye on these two to see if they are attacking the basket or settling for jump shots in game two.
Trail Blazer front line - The Suns were vexed at times, six offensive rebounds during the decisive stretch in the fourth quarter, by the Kings size and length (despite only being -4 on the boards). The Blazers frontcourt of Leonard, Freeland and Aldridge (with Batum as a long three) is also slightly longer than the Suns. This will probably be an issue all year as Morris and Gortat may be the only above average rebounders on the team playing significant minutes and many teams have more length at the four and more seven footers than the Suns (one).
Pace - The Suns looked fluid at times, but I definitely wouldn't classify the speed of the game as frenetic. Although they scored 30 points in the first quarter, much of that was more to do with 57% shooting than the volume of plays. After repeated assertions that the team will push the pace, let's look to see if the Suns can make it north of 100 this game.
Bench - Telfair is expected to play, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on a bench that was overmatched at times against the Kings. The Suns can't afford to perpetuate the leitmotif of the reserves squandering leads which has pervaded recent seasons. Brown is not expected to play, which mean more playing time for guys trying to make the roster, so the group tonight still won't be a finished product.