PHOENIX – Like a teenage boy with a cracking voice and wispy hair appearing on his chin, the Phoenix Suns went through an awkward growth period during the first quarter of the 2013-14 season....

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PHOENIX – The best shooting backcourt in the league today is certainly Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but the Phoenix Suns’ duo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic might be the least...

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The Phoenix Suns led nearly the entire game, but it was a close one all along. Golden State's Splash brothers lost a tight duel to the Suns newly ordained Slash Brothers.

It was a crazy game that felt like a back and forth affair, despite the Suns holding a lead for nearly the entire game. Several times, the Warriors got within a possession until the Suns pulled back out into the lead to finally win 106-102.

Steph Curry made it his business to make the game close, as did Klay Thompson, until P.J. Tucker smothered an iso play by Curry with 20 seconds left to ice the game.

What a game!!!!

The Splash Brothers had a huge second half for the Warriors, putting in 47 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals between them.

But the Slash Brothers played even better, with 45 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds and 7 steals between them. Giving credit to the nightly Slash winner: Bledsoe had 24, 8, 8 and 3 by himself.


The Warriors didn't want the Suns to have any easy shots at the rim, twice fouling on breakaways and twice more hard-fouling on alley-oops at the rim. Definitely, the game plan was to try to keep the fans out of the game - a good strategy for the road team to employ.

Through the first quarter, the Suns fought through by making their jumpers and keeping their cool. It helps when you're 5-7 from the three-point line, and shooting 57% overall from the field.

Andrew Bogut was a focal point of the Warriors offense more than usual, scoring on all four possessions in which he was focused. He rebounded and put back his only miss.

But the Suns had a good 33-27 lead after one, thanks to the shooting.

The Warriors are a very talented team, and a young one like the Suns. Their second quarter lineup began sans Curry, but still boasted David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson as they tried to get back into the game. Dragic and the backups held them off though - even including Archie Goodwin thanks to the fast pace of the game. Archie played tight defense on Tony Douglas, giving Eric Bledsoe a rest while Curry was out.

One of my biggest keys to this game was the rebounding battle. Warriors are 7th in the NBA, while the Suns are near the bottom in total rebounds and last in second-chance points allowed. Somehow, the Suns kept up at 8-point lead despite getting worked on the boards by 5 at the midpoint of the second Q. That lead won't last if the Suns hot shooting (54% on threes, 51% overall).

And just as I write that, the Suns close the rebounding gap by just a bit and take a 12-point lead on some really nice drives by Bledsoe and shots by guys like Channing Frye.

By the 2:31 mark of the second, neither Curry nor Thompson had attempted a three-point field goal and the Warriors as a team had taken only 7. Their season averages for a half are 8 and 14, respectively.

The Suns had a 13-point lead, but then Curry scored 5 quick points and assisted on another, while Eric Bledsoe came up short on two bunnies in the lane. Bledsoe had played so hard that first half, holding Curry in check while putting up 11 and 5 with 2 steals of his own that, on that last play, hung his head before driving for the easy shot only to come up short. It's like Bledsoe's clock stopped a minute before the game clock did.

At the half, the Warriors were down only 6 in a game that shouldn't have been that close.


  • Bledsoe with 11, 5 and 3 steals
  • Dragic with 11, 3 and 2 steals
  • Frye was on fire with 14 points on 5 shots from the field
  • Plumlee had 4 points and 6 rebounds against the bigger Bogut
  • Bogut and David Lee combined for 19 points, 17 rebounds in the half
  • Curry and Thompson only had 14 points and 7 assists between them

The second half didn't start the way the Suns wanted, with Frye missing a contested three while Thompson made a wide open one to cut the Suns lead to three.

But then the Suns dialed in again and built the lead back to 9 on typical Suns plays. A little helter skelter, but always fun to watch.

When the Warriors pulled it again to 4, Goran Dragic took over and made a nifty layup between Curry and Bogut, followed by a corner three. He followed the corner three by yelling something at the Warrior bench and pumping his fist. Lead back to 9.

The Warriors managed to crawl back into the game, though, on some inspired play by Stephen Curry, who had only scored 5 points in the game's first 13 minutes, but then poured in 14 over the next 10 to pull the Warriors within 1. The Warriors tied it a couple minutes later on Speights three before the Suns closed out the quarter with a free throw.

End of three: Suns by only 1.

Can the Suns hold off the Warriors in the fourth? It will take some strong defense against Curry, who enters the quarter with 21 points.

The Warriors came back to win earlier this year after being down by 27, so the second-quarter Suns lead of 13 seems quite small and turned out that way.

The Suns opened with an 8-2 run with Bledsoe running point, before "the play" happened. Bogut blocked himself on a drive to the rim, only to get a phantom foul call. That turned into a 4-point play after he made the first FT, but then David Lee grabbed the o--board and Klay Thompson banged a three.

The Suns could have folded there, but Marcus Morris scored on three straight possessions (two midrange shots, and a FT) to help the Suns keep the lead despite a sick three by Curry.

Steph Curry played the entire second half, while the Suns had the luxury of resting Dragic for half the fourth while they kept the lead.

With five minutes left, the Warriors were only down one thanks to six more offensive rebounds than the Suns (11-5). Curry and Thompson had put them team on their backs, combining for 30 second half points by the 4-minute mark.

Bledsoe made a big three, and then assisted Frye on a big one to pull the Suns lead out to 7 a minute later.

Both teams were terrible on free throws, the Warriors missing 10 and the Suns missing 11, but were much better one threes (Suns 13-27 vs. Warriors 10-21), through the three minute mark.

The game got loose after that. I mean literally, with a lot of loose balls, and the game got back to a one possession game in between a lot of turnovers for both sides.

Steph Curry hit a crazy three to cut it to two but then Bledsoe and Frye hit big shots to seal the deal.

In a game featuring two of the league's highest scoring teams centered around their guards, the Phoenix Suns try for another signature win over a playoff contender, the Golden State Warriors.

Tonight is one of those games that will show the nation whether the upstart Phoenix Suns are for real. The vaunted offense of the Golden State Warriors, led by guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson - otherwise known as the "Splash Brothers" for their shooting prowess - come to the desert to square off against the Suns' lately crowned "Slash Brothers".

The opponent

The Golden State Warriors have gotten off to a slow start, relative to expectations, this season with a 13-11 record after 24 games.

While their struggles are mostly due to a tough schedule to open the season, the Warriors have surprisingly struggled a bit on offense. They are second in the league in three-point percentage (41.2) behind the prolific shooting of Curry and Thompson, but otherwise are only 12th in scoring efficiency. They don't have a lot of points at the rim.

Where the Warriors have done very well is on defense. They are 7th in the league in defensive efficiency, doing well where the Suns struggle. The Warriors are 4th in the league in rebounding and 3rd in fouls committed. As you saw in Kris' article yesterday, the Suns are terrible in those areas.

The Warriors are hurting with injury lately, losing Andre Iguodala and Jermaine O'Neal in the last two weeks to long-term injuries. Those two helped solidify the Warriors on defense.

The Suns

Really, just look at the awesome content provided by Kris Habbas, Sean Sullivan and Jacob Padilla yesterday. Top notch analysis on so many aspects of the Suns.

Overall, the Suns are riding a four game winning streak behind the scoring and assisting prowess of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. The Warriors defend the rim well, but Curry and Thompson don't appear to be much of a defensive threat to the Suns in this game.

Look for the back court scoring to be high on both sides.

The stats


Where the Warriors really stand out is on defense and three-point shooting.

The lineups


The Warriors are missing their defensive anchor on the wing, Andre Iguodala, and top backup center after former Sun Jermaine O'Neal went down with an injury last week. Rebounding will suffer in his absence.

The key matchup

Splash Brothers vs. Slash Brothers.

Otherwise, rebounding and second chance points will be key in this game. The Suns are terrible at it, while the Warriors are really good. If the Warriors dominate in this area, it will be a long night.

The prediction

I actually see the Suns winning this game.

Curry and Thompson will have a tough time containing Bledsoe and Dragic, which will take away from their effectiveness on the other end. At the same time though, Bledsoe and Dragic will have a tough time containing the "Splash Brothers", though the Suns league-leading three-point defense should have some success running them off the line.

The Warriors will miss Jermaine O'Neal's rebounding off the bench and Andre Iguodala's overall effectiveness on both offense and defense.

Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are collectively killing it this year. Therefore, I decided they deserved a collective logo.

Suns fans have known Goran Dragic as the Dragon for a long time. When the Suns acquired Eric Bledsoe, some fans dubbed him Blade; it sounds similar to his last name and is appropriate with the way he can knife into the lane. With the Suns' intention to play the two together in one backcourt, it was only natural for fans to combine the two nicknames into one. Thus, DragonBlade was born.

Some love the name (one frequent commenter on this blog even adopted it as his screen name). Some don't like it all that much. However, whether you like it or not, everyone has to admit that the imagery it evokes is awesome. Dragons are big and bad and fiery. Blades are sharp and dangerous. Put them together? Sheer destruction.

I have a little bit of artistic ability, and when I was bored one day I decided to do a little sketching.

I began with just a Goran Dragic sketch. I decided to combine his Dragon nickname with the name/logo of the team: the sun. Below is the result.


I liked it, but decided to take it a step further and develop one for Dragon and Blade together. I kept the same spiral dragon with sun rays design, only I made the dragon out of fire (to even better incorporate the Suns) and used the sun rays to incorporate Bledsoe by making them sword-style blades.


I thought it turned out pretty well myself, but didn't do anything further with the sketch. That is, until I started taking a graphic design class at Creighton.

I learned how to use Adobe Illustrator as part of the class, and after my first project turned out pretty well and I thought I had a firm grasp of the program, I decided to bust out the sketch to see if I could take it from paper to the screen.

After some trial and error, I pulled it off. Now all that was left was to make some minor tweaks until I was satisfied. I'm no Watdogg (a.k.a. professional graphic designer Dustin Watson of Dark Wing Illustration and former Bright Side staff member), but below is the final product.


The dragon swirl I simply traced from my sketch and adjusted until it looked good enough. The blades I made in Illustrator and placed more or less evenly around the dragon. I chose a font that I thought fit well with the design and the name. Originally I had an orange dragon and a white background, but I changed the dragon to an orange-yellow gradient to make it look more like fire and added a purple background to more completely incorporate Suns colors and to make the dragon pop more. Finally, I added a white stroke around the test and changed the stroke around the dragon from black to white.

With the way Dragic and Bledsoe have been playing lately, I felt now was the appropriate time to bust this out and share it with my Bright Side brethren.

A big push has been made for the "Slash Brothers" nickname, and that is a great name as well and very timely as the Suns are set to face off with the Golden State Warriors led by the "Splash Brothers" of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Suns' duo does deserve the name. Seriously, look at the comparison of the two backcourts' per game numbers.

Eric Bledsoe 34.2 6.7 13.6 .493 1.3 3.6 .345 5.4 9.9 .547 4.6 5.7 .802 0.4 3.6 4.1 6.3 1.7 0.3 3.4 2.3 19.2
Goran Dragic 34.9 6.6 13.3 .494 1.3 3.6 .348 5.3 9.7 .549 4.6 5.7 .798 0.7 2.4 3.1 6.2 1.0 0.3 2.6 2.4 19.0
Stephen Curry 37.3 8.3 18.0 .459 3.3 7.9 .416 5.0 10.1 .493 4.0 4.6 .875 0.6 3.6 4.1 9.0 1.7 0.3 4.1 2.8 23.9
Klay Thompson 38.2 7.4 16.0 .465 3.3 7.5 .439 4.1 8.5 .488 2.2 2.8 .776 0.7 2.7 3.4 2.6 1.0 0.5 2.0 3.1 20.3
DragonBlade 69.1 13.3 26.9 .494 2.6 7.2 .346 10.7 19.6 .548 9.2 11.4 .800 1.1 6.0 7.2 12.5 2.7 0.6 6.0 4.7 38.2
Splash Brothers 75.5 15.7 34.0 .462 6.6 15.4 .428 9.1 18.6 .490 6.2 7.4 .834 1.3 6.3 7.5 11.6 2.7 0.8 6.1 5.9 44.2

However, I can't have as much fun visually with the name, so I'm going to roll with DragonBlade and my DragonBlade logo. What do you think Bright Siders? Which name do you like better? How does my logo look? Do any of you have logos of your own to suggest? Let me hear you Bright Side.

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