Tonight, the Suns took on the Denver Nuggets in their second preseason game. Would they be able to win their second game in a row and stay undefeated early?

The Suns were looking to show more energy and focus tonight after a sloppy win against the Flamengo international team last Wednesday

First Quarter

Anthony Tolliver wasted no time...hitting his first three-point jumper on the first possession.  Goran Dragic with a beautiful spin move on the dribble to go glass on a layup for his first touch.

Miles Plumlee fouls Timofey Mozgov who hits both free throws

The Phoenix Suns looking much more energetic to start this game than they were against Flamengo.  Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek mentioned that would be a point of emphasis in the pre-game press conference, and they are delivering.

On the next possession, Dragic goes coast to coast on a fast break and takes it to the hoop.  Goran also looking much sharper tonight thus far.

Wilson Chandler scores in the post on P.J. Tucker.  Not easy to do.

Dragic answers back with a 13-foot jumper...He is 3-3 to start the game and already has 6 points.

Darrell Arthur gets a bucket on the other end against Tolliver.

Eric Bledsoe gets into the action drawing a foul on Ty Lawson

Miles Plumlee took off from what looked to be close to the free throw line, but missed on the dunk due to being fouled...It would have been a monster!  He did hit both free throws though, so it was a win for Miles there either way.

Wilson Chandler gets inside to score despite very good defense from Plum.

Dragic misses a jumper that he pulls up to shoot and banks off the glass...his first miss so far.

It feels like the Suns are up big already but Denver keeps answering back.  13-12 halfway through the first.

Two sloppy possessions in a row for the Suns who throw the ball away on each...preseason.

Phoenix calls a time out, and the Suns start out with an aggressive drive to the hoop by Eric Bledsoe who misses at the rim, but Plumlee is there for the tip-in.

Wilson Chandler hits a three for the Nuggets.

Tolliver nails another corner three pointer.  His second. On the next possession, Tolliver gets to the rim off of a fast-break pass, but gets fouled and only hits one of two at the line.

Plumlee with great help defense to create a turnover which leads to a fast break and a foul on Bledsoe.  Eric hits one of two free throws.

Bledsoe sprints down court to block the shot from behind on the next possession, but Jusuf Nurkic scores off the inbound jumper.

Goran scores on a pull-up jumper on one possession, then Bledsoe pulls up from the same spot on the next possession and shoots an air ball...preseason.

Suns second unit of Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, and Shavlik Randolph check in with two minutes to go in the first.

Markieff bricks a jumper on offense then allows Gallinari to shoot uncontested while he still had his hands down in front of him.  I'm sure Hornacek will remind him that Danillo is a pretty good shooter when he gets back to the bench.  Not a great start for Keef.

Gerald Green gets things going quickly with a three to start him off.  Isaiah Thomas also gets in on the action with a beautiful floater on a drive to the rim.

The starting unit (for this game at least) played with energy and hustle, but a few too many sloppy plays were enough to keep the Nuggets in it...even though it seemed like the Suns were the far superior team on the floor.  We'll see if Denver can keep up with them for an entire game though.

At the end of the first quarter, the Suns are tied with the Nuggets 29-29.  Goran Dragic is the leading scorer for the Suns with 8 points.  Gallinari is the leading scorer on the Nuggets with 9 points.

Second Quarter

The same second unit stays in to start the second quarter.  Gerald Green gets free for another one of his highlight reel dunks.  I seriously don't remember the last game he didn't at least have one.

Green attacks the rim again but misses the difficult lay-up because of a foul.  He gets to the line and hits both.  Say what you will about Green's defense, but the guy has become a scoring machine and brings it every night.

Thomas scores on a nice euro-step drive to the hoop.  He's so skilled and so fun to watch...he's going to be another fan favorite for sure this season.

Randolph fouls Randy Foye on what looked to be pretty good defense driving to the hoop.  He only hits one of two.

Marcus gets inside for what looked like an easy dunk or lay-up, but Nurkic recovers and makes a great block and the Nuggets recover.

Joey Crawford nails Keef with a technical for complaining about something.  It may be preseason, but Crawford is obviously already in mid-season form.

Keef misses a three this time...he still has yet to score.

Gerald Green on the other hand has no trouble scoring as he hits a pull-up jumper.

Randolph draws the charge on the other end on Jerrelle Benimon.

Green goes to work backing down Gary Harris on what would have been a great turn around jumper, but Crawford blows the whistle on Harris for the foul as the shot goes up and in...Thanks but no thanks Joey.

Keef gets fouled and finally gets on the board by hitting both free throws.

Earl Barron checks in to replace Shavlik Randolph with 7 minutes left in the half.  Archie Goodwin then checks in for Markieff Morris who just doesn't have it tonight.  Suns up 41-32 halfway through the quarter.

Earl Barron gets on the board with a nice tip in on a miss by Green.  The Suns are really starting to pull away now.

Highlight of the game happens as Isaiah Thomas finds a cutting Archie Goodwin running baseline and throws a beautiful no-look pass that Archie slams home on the reverse dunk.  That was awesome!

The Suns already look like they are starting to have fun on the court together...even the new additions.  This is great news for the team as they are a group who feeds on energy and great chemistry.

T.J. Warren now replaces Gerald Green who had a great start.

Earl Barron with the two-handed slam off a nice pass from Isaiah...preseason.

Denver calls time out and Tyler Ennis makes his way onto the court replacing Isaiah Thomas who has had an awesome game thus far.

Marcus has also been struggling to make his baskets tonight as well.  He has hit at least a couple to score 5 points at least, but both of the Morrii having an off night.  Twin-synergy...for better or worse, it seems.

Danilo Gallinari scores another basket off a beautiful up and under play at the rim.  He has been the most impressive player for the Nuggets so far tonight.

Mozgov goes to work inside on Earl Barron who simply can't match his size.  He now has 8 points in the game.

Although the Suns second and third string played the entire second quarter, they were the most aggressive overall and were able to put the most distance between themselves and the opponent, leading by as much as 11.

This will be a major strength of the Suns this season...little to no drop off in performance or efficiency when resting starters.  The quality of depth on the team is amazing and should be their biggest positive as the season goes on.

At the end of the first half, the Suns lead the Nuggets 52-46.  Gerald Green is the leading scorer for the Suns with 11 points.  Danilo Gallinari is the leading scorer on the Nuggets with 17 points.

Third Quarter

The same starting unit is in to start the third quarter.  Plumlee misses a hook shot on their first possession...but it had more lift and looked like it was going to go at least.

P.J. Tucker trying to make a post up play gets fouled hard by Wilson Chandler, and hits the floor.  it sounds like a sack of bricks dropped on the court....just Tucker.

Suns missed another shot as a Tolliver three rims out...0-2 to start the second half.

P.J. Tucker finally gets the Suns on the board with a three point shot.  I'll bet you'll never guess where he shot it (the corner, of course).

Ty Lawson gets inside for a bucket, and Dragic answers back with an ever better drive inside with a great finish to score at the other end.

Mozgov still scoring on the Suns bigs at will...He now has 10 in the game.  Not only that, he blocked what looked like a sure dunk by Miles at the other end, pinning the ball against the rim.  He's been a challenge for the Suns.

Tucker stepped out of bounds on a jump shot from three and then stared angrily at the floor like it was the court's fault...Just P.J. things.

Bledsoe makes up for it on the next play though with a great drive to the basket for an easy lay-up.  Bledsoe is looking incredibly fast and athletic.  Oh, and he's pretty darn strong too.

Suns starters holding serve thus far and preserving the lead created by the second unit.

Tucker hits another three...guess where?

So, this Tolliver guy can shoot, huh?  Anthony hits another three and now the Suns first unit is beginning to pull away by even more.

Shavlik Randolph checks into the game for Miles Plumlee about midway through the quarter.

Alanzo Gee hits a three point shot after two consecutive Suns misses on their possessions.  Hornacek calls time out to try to preserve the 71-58 lead before it dissipates.

Zoran Dragic making his first appearance of the game now for P.J. Tucker.  Isaiah Thomas checks in for Bledsoe.  Goran and Zoran both on the floor together now...Slovenia in the house!

Zoran makes an aggressive move to the basket but can't finish the lay-up...the crowd was ready to erupt if it went in.

Markieff checks in for Tolliver and hits a pull-up jumper to start off...maybe that will help him get going.

Mozgov makes an excellent shot while hanging in the air to score inside...He has been impressive.

Keef hits a three!  That's two shots  in a row now.

Marcus Morris now checks in to replace Goran Dragic.

Shavlik drives to the basket to draw the foul.  However, he misses both free throws...Odd for a guy who seems to be shooting so well from outside lately.  Randolph still looking for his first points of the game.

Randolph then misses a jump shot...there goes that theory.

At the end of the third quarter, the Suns lead the Nuggets 80-64 . Goran Dragic is the leading scorer for the Suns with 12 points.  Danilo Gallinari is the leading scorer on the Nuggets with 17 points.

Fourth Quarter

The Suns lineup to start the fourth quarter is Thomas, Zoran, the Morrii, and Barron.  Thomas gets to the rim but can't convert on the first possession.

Jusuf Nurkic scores for the Nuggets, but Keef answers back with a three at the other end.  Whatever it was earler, Keef seems to have shaken it off now and is playing much better in the second half.

Thpomas is blocked leading to a fast break at the other end and an uncontested score for Alonzo Gee.

Earl Barron drew his second charge against the Nuggetrs in the fourth quarter.  Heads up playing by Earl on defense.

Denver calls a time out.

T.J. Warren now getting some more minutes, replacing Zoran Dragic.

Archie Goodwin checks back in, and Jamil Wilson gets his first minutes tonight as well.

T.J. Warren gets on the board knocking down a three and showing his range.

Marcus WIlliams answers back for the Nuggets.

Warren gets to the rim and scores once again on consecutive possessions.

Gary Harris scores a three for the Nuggets.

Denver still looking to make a push here...the Suns have to be careful.

Ok, scratch that, it's officially T.J. Warren time as the rookie answers back with another three...that isn't even his strength, but he's showing he flat out knows how to get the ball in the basket, and knows hot to take over a game. He now has 8 points all in the last few minutes of play in the fourth quarter.

Time out Denver.

Tyler Ennis now in at the point.  It's now an all rookie or try-out (plus Archie) line-up to seemingly close out the game with 5 minutes remaining and the Nuggets still in striking distance.

Ennis tries to get creative but slips on a spin move while driving inside and loses the ball out of bounds...preseason.

Archie Goodwin doing what he does best now, attacking the basket and drawing the foul.  However, he misses both free throws.

Marcus Williams hits a three to cut the Suns lead to 10 with two minutes remaining in the game.

Warren cleans up  an Ennis miss for a basket inside.  He now has 10 points.

Nurkic answers back at the other end.  He now has 8 points to go along with 12 rebounds.  A solid performance for the Nuggets big man.

Warren misses a three, but he seems to have done enough to ensure the Suns victory.

Ennis gets on the board as he attacks the basket and finishes in traffic.

Marcus Williams hits a three to end the game for the Nuggets as the Suns dribble out the clock to another victory.

Game over.

The Suns beat the Nuggets with a final score of 80-64 . Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris are the leading scorers for the Suns with 12 points each.  Danilo Gallinari is the leading scorer on the Nuggets with 17 points.

Final Thoughts

The Suns were looking to show more energy and focus tonight after a sloppy win against the Flamengo international team last Wednesday.  In that respect, mission accomplished.

The Suns still certainly have some kinks to work out, and they are still making some sloppy plays at times, but they already looked much improved tonight, and against much better competition.

Stay tuned for more coverage, including post game quotes from the coaches and players, along with other thought's on tonight's game, coming tomorrow morning.

Three-headed monster. It was a term thrown around much on Phoenix Suns Media Day last week. Of course, the term referring to the Suns trio of guards, Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. The...

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Welcome to a new weekly feature at Valley of the Suns. Every Friday, I will answer reader questions from the week in a mailbag form. You can leave your questions for next week in the comments section...

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The Suns looked a little out of sync in their first preseason game against Flamengo, but still got the win. Will they be able to win a much tougher match-up against the Nuggets tonight?

What: Phoenix Suns Vs. Denver Nuggets

Where: U.S. Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ

When: 7:00 p.m. (AZ)

Watch: Suns.com (Rise Network Internet streaming)

Listen: AZ Sports 98.7 FM (Locally or Streaming on Internet)

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns will take on the Denver Nuggets at home in their second preseason game of the 2014-15 NBA season.

After a slow start against the inferior Flamengo international team Wednesday night, in which Phoenix was still able to get a win, the Suns will be looking to tighten up their game, and get off to a better start...especially in the first and third quarters.

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are also coming off a win on Thursday night.  However, there's was a bit more impressive.  They beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-101, in a game that featured both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (although they only played around 12-13 minutes each).

The Nuggets were led by the surprising play of Timofey Mozgov, whose 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 1 assist posted the best stat line of the night for either team.

If Denver uses him in the same way as they did against the Thunder, Miles Plumlee, Markieff Morris, and Shavlik Randolph will have their hands full in the post. And they will need to fare much better than Steven Adams did for Oklahoma City if they want to get the win.

As for the offense, I expect the Suns to use the fully utilize their electrifying backcourt trio of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas to out-pace and out-score anyone whom Denver throws at them.  Isaiah got off to a slow start in the first game, going only 1-5 from the field to start the game, but he quickly turned it around, especially in the fourth quarter, and ended up leading all scorers with 18 points off the bench.  I expect him to score even more than that tonight.

Finally, one of the other match-ups to watch tonight will be the Morri vs. Faried.  Markieff Morris will almost certainly get the start against Kenneth Faried, but Keef could also play some minutes at the five.  As such, I expect that Marcus Morris will also see some time matched up with the Manimal, and that will be a good test for Marcus to see if he is able to play the four this season if called upon to do so.

In addition, it appears that Anthony Tolliver may see his first action tonight in a Suns uniform, as was reported earlier today by Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek.

Overall, I expect this to be a high-scoring, yet close game...as the Suns and Nuggets are both very young and talented with high-energy players.  However, I believe that the Suns highly talented guard rotation will simply be too much for the Nuggets to keep up with in the end, and that Phoenix will pull away late to earn their second consecutive victory in the preseason.

Time will tell.

All good things have to come to an end. This is the end, of #SUNSRANK for 2014-2015...

Who are the five most important names and faces for the Phoenix Suns for the 2014-2015 season? Well, at least according to the staff here...There are players, coaches, front office members, entertainment, and so much more that all come together to form a successful team. Most of the formula has been revealed, now here are the key ingredients.

Everything is connected.

We knocked out 25-6 on here for #SUNSRANK for the 2014-2015 Phoenix Suns season with some big names and other faces that will have a say in how the season goes overall. Go back and check out the lists from this week if you missed them, but lets continue to march forward.

In these rankings some great names were left out of the Top 25 like Casey Prather, Jamil Wilson, Joe Jackson, Earl Barron, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Alec Brown, the Cheerleaders, and the Hip-Hop Squad. They will not be forgotten.

#SUNSRANK is a compilation of 14 writers here on Bright Side that ranked the most important names and faces of the franchise for this one year. This is not a "future rankings" or some Fox News one-sided account of things. Everyone had their own opinion and the rankings are as the staff deemed fit. There were some wild rankings, but we are not going to leak like a sieve a la the NSA in here. We have some integrity.

This is it. Go back and look at the rest of the rankings to see where the rest of the Suns faces ranked here.

*************************

25-21 << 20-16 << 15-11 << 10-6 << 5-1

*************************

No. 5: Isaiah Thomas (7.5)

Profile: 5'9" 185 lbs. Point Guard -- Fourth Year Washington

Stats (Last Season): In 34.7 MPG 20.3 PPG 6.3 APG 45.3% FG 34.9% 3PT

Interesting Fact: His name was derived from a bet between his father (Lakers fan) bet on the 1989 NBA Finals, where the Lakers were swept, and Thomas was named Isaiah after the Pistons star, but tweaked for a biblical connection.

Analysis: The little guy is going to be huge in Phoenix next year. From an on-court perspective, he'll grant Coach Hornacek so much more freedom than he had last year.  Hornacek can have his two point guard system flowing all game, and not have to worry about any drop in productivity.  Thomas will be a feisty little spark plug off the bench; with him, Gerald Green, Marcus Morris, and Tolliver coming off the bench together, they should be a devastating second unit that will surely be contention for highest scoring bench in the league. Thomas is a gritty player too.  It never hurts to have guys that play with a fire, and he could very well be one of the vocal leaders on this team.

As far as off of the court, I think Thomas is going to hugely resonate with the fans. Who doesn't love a 5'9 underdog? He's already connected to the community with his backpack giveaway and school supplies drive in August. Thomas seems really happy to be here, and I think the fans will just continue to embrace him once they see him on the floor.  He'll be fan favorite for years to come. -- Garrett Benson

Important Question: Will lightning in a bottle be satisfied as a 6th Man and a limited role?

No. 4: Markieff Morris (6.214)

Profile: 6'10" 245 lbs. Power Forward -- Fourth Year Kansas

Stats (Last Season): In 26.6 MPG 13.8 PPG 6.0 RPG 48.6% FG 31.5% 3PT

Interesting Fact: Markieff got the master bedroom in their Phoenix home after beating Marcus in a game of Madden 2013... True story.

Analysis: As a reserve last year Markieff made the leap to being a consistent, relied upon option for the Suns and a legitimate 6th man of the Year candidate. Playing behind Channing Frye and with a loose second unit highlighted his strengths and masked his weaknesses. That is one thing that Coach Hornacek does very well with his young players, mask weaknesses, and emphasize strengths. The changes to his game were obvious. He shot nearly a full three-point shot less per game from year one to year three, almost tripled his free-throw attempts, and shot the ball immensely more efficiently from the field because of that on more shots overall. There was visible progression to his game. This year Markieff looks to be in even better shape than last year and genuinely happy. Growing as a leader, as a rebounder, and as true "power forward" are the next steps in the evolution of his game. All the tools are there for Markieff to be a viable third option on a good team hunting for a playoff spot, but now there is not the safety net of Frye playing 25-30 minutes a night in front of him.

This season he will have more responsibility in the pick-and-roll game. More times where he has to make the decision on plays that will impact the outcome of a game. How Markieff plays in this role could be the barometer on the teams overall success. -- Kris Habbas

Important Question: Can Markieff be the third best player on a playoff team?

No. 3: Eric Bledsoe (3.857)


Profile: 6'1" 190 lbs. Point Guard -- Fifth Year Kentucky

Stats (Last Season 43 Games): In 32.9 MPG 17.7 PPG 5.5 APG 4.7 RPG 47.7% FG 35.7% 3PT

Interesting Fact: He is a man of few words.

Analysis: How apropos is it that I get to blurb Eric in this exercise? Somehow my disdain for all things Bledsoe caused me to rank him as high (tied) as anyone else on the staff. I guess not everyone else can see his value.


I still think Eric is a bit of an enigma. I wasn't really able to ascertain exactly what I think of Bledsoe based on last year's half season sample. Will he be Flash Gordon or Eric Gordon? If he can continue to tap into his vast potential and eliminate some of his puzzling lapses, perhaps it's the former. The thing is, Eric turns 25 in December and has just done so little this far into his career. Even last season he was just a very good player (when healthy), not a great one.


Here's hoping that a full, healthy season will allow him to hit that next gear because for now the Suns have hitched their franchise to his wagon. -- Jim Coughenour

Important Question: Is this his team?

No. 2: Jeff Hornacek (3.5)

Profile: Head Coach -- Second Year

Stats: Former Utah Jazz shooting coach, traded for Charles Barkley, made 2,055 three-pointers, one time All-Star, and two times Finals Runner-Up.

Interesting Fact: Sure, Karl Malone was "The Mailman," but Hornacek was "The Paperboy" in some circles. There is an APB out on a John Stockton nickname...

Analysis: The success of the team rests on Jeff Hornacek and his staff. The staff appears to be really good at devising schemes (8th on O, 15th on D with a very inexperienced team) and developing player skills, including Miles Plumlee, Keef Morris, Dragic and Bledsoe among others. But to make it work and win games in the process, the head coach has to know how to instill confidence in him, in themselves and in the scheme. Hornacek is a natural. For the Suns to win in year two, Hornacek will have an even tougher job this season. No longer are the Suns surprising themselves. They expect to win a lot and make the playoffs, yet they are still a very young team who could regress in the face of adversity. So Hornacek will have to make sure they don't get too down or too up and just stay even keeled all year while the expectations mount. -- Dave King

Important Question: How does he manage expectations?

No. 1: Goran Dragic (1.642)

Profile: 6'4" 180 lbs. Point Guard -- Seventh Year Slovenia

Stats (Last Season): In 35.1 MPG 20.3 PPG 5.9 APG 50.5% FG 40.8% 3PT

Interesting Fact: Dragic only started playing basketball after an injury derailed his youth soccer career. Good choice.

Analysis: Goran Dragic is the face of the franchise. The Dragon's rise to All-NBA status has been nothing short of remarkable, especially considering the timid, lost rookie he was just a few years ago. After he's shown an impressive level of improvement in each of the last few seasons, it will be fascinating to see where Goran's game goes this year. Nonetheless, there's no reason to doubt Gogi-we all know what kind of a competitor he is and how remarkable of a campaign he just had a season ago while splitting time at both backcourt positions. He's in the prime of his career and is likely to remain in Phoenix after he inevitably opts out of his bargain of a contract next summer. The Suns brass knows how valuable Khal Dragic is to the franchise-this no doubt played a role in the signing of Zoran Dragic, or Dragon Ball Z if you will. As the only remnant of the Steve Nash era, the Prodigal Sun will no doubt play a key role in the next chapter of this franchise's story. After Goran Dragic's brilliance last season, I can't imagine anyone else being ranked #1 in terms of importance to the Phoenix Suns. -- Sreekar Jasthi

Important Question: Is this his team?

Ohhh Nelly.... We saved the best for last.

Ending the write-in ballot's the right way, with Dave, Sean, and Mike's (sans Mike as he is on his fifteenth vacation this week):

Write-In: Bright Side of the Sun

The reason I think Bright Side of the Suns is so important to the team is that it gives the die-hard fans a place to come and read quality, in-depth articles about the inner-workings of the organization and the players, while also providing great stories and game coverage.  But that's just the beginning.  BSOTS is an interactive network of fans in which the community can comment and communicate with each other as well.   In this respect, the fans have a place to talk to others while watching the games, or while reading articles about the latest happenings with the team.  It is a community as much as it is a site to read about team news.  In my opinion, it's by far the best site for all Suns related information and interaction.  There's just no other place like it. -- Sean Sullivan

I first joined BSotS because I wasn't finding enough Suns news to chew on every day. I started writing because I realized that other fans felt the same way, so maybe we could generate some conversation through my posts. And now, I just can't get enough of it. I love being around the Suns - my team since Kyle Macy was the point guard - and BSotS is to thank for that. -- Dave King

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