By all counts, the Phoenix Suns’ preseason finale against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night was over by halftime. In their final tuneup before the season begins Tuesday, the Suns shot 30.8...

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At least you can always cheer for this team.

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That was bad ... really bad.

I've been excusing the preseason struggles all preseason, but you can't give up 78 first half points to the Nuggets, who played last night in Portland and are without five six of their best players (Anthony, Martin, Andersen, Billups, and Harrington +Nene). Even without Turkoglu and Childress, this team doesn't look anywhere close for the regular season to start on Tuesday.

I still think there's too much talent and quality for this team to be bad, but it does look like the first 10 or 15 games might be a rough ride.

The Suns finish the preseason with a 2-6 record, which means nothing but the fact that they still haven't found their shot and even worse, got crushed on the defensive end, is officially troubling. 

Game Notes

2nd Qtr

  • Late arrival is me. Came straight from the airport and missed the first 14 minutes or so of action. Sorry, sue me. Actually, please don't. 
  • So far from what I can tell with my keen powers of box score observation: The Nuggets are shooting the ball really, really well; Ty Lawson is a stud; Giving up 78 points in the half with no Carmelo Anthony is a friggin disgrace for a top defensive team or any team really; No Childress seems to mean more Clark; Team is probably also getting a last look at  Earl before deciding on that option
  • Oh, no Turkoglu. Just noticed that one. Someone told me he's just getting a night off for rest.
  • From watching a few minutes, the Suns are going to Warrick in the paint a lot and it's working fairly well. Well enough that the Nuggets are having to double team him. Robin's shot looks good as well. Suns with 61 first half points which is pretty cool...except for giving up 78 to the Nuggets which is HORRENDOUS 
  • Gentry was screaming at guys in the huddle during a timeout before the end of the half about that completely crap defensive "effort"
3rd Qtr
  • Ty Lawson dropped 22 points in 12:50. Holy North Carolina! 
  • Bet that locker room was fun. Gentry is not holding back this season
  • Suns in a zone to start the 3rd. Not working any better
  • They're pressing now...ugly. 88-61, timeout Suns
  • Oh, and Denver played last night in Portland to rub salt in the wound
  • Dudley in for Warrick so that makes Grant Hill the PF? Doesn't matter too much b/c Suns have been in a zone all quarter but Hill is having to bang with Sheldon Williams which is cruel
  • JRich putting some points on the board. You can't ever accuse that guy of not playing hard
  • At this point I think Gentry is having them play zone as punishment
  • And to prove me wrong, Gentry goes back to man D and Ty Lawson resumes abusing Nash...just going right by him with no problem at all
  • Clark was being pressured by Balkman so he drove by him and had a clear path to the rim but kicked out to the corner. Decision making.
  • Janning and Dragic in. Nash might be done - and probably should be with 29 minutes played
  • Good effort/hustle play by Clark to battle for a loose ball. He needs to do a LOT of that
  • Impressively strong drive and finish by Dudley after getting the steal. His handle looks good
  • Suns back in the zone w/ the second unit guys
4th Qtr
  • Sick spin move and finish by Goran. He's looked very good in the last two games. 
  • Smart move by Siler. He snatched the rebound from over the top of Dudley and got the put-back himself. That dude needs the stats more.
  • This has to be Earl's best game of the preseason. He looks a little more relaxed and comfortable on the floor.
  • Good effort by Janning fighting through a screen and earning an offensive foul.
  • And another one drawn by Matt.
  • Getting chippy with him and Affalo who pushed him with a forearm after saying something. Gentry screamed at Janning, "Don't take any shit off anybody if you want to be in this league". Nash talking to him as well.
  • Lawal did a great job closing out on a corner three and got a finger on the ball. Very athletic play.
  • There you go, Mattie. Drive hard to the rim. Man up. Affalo responds with a three.
  • In a strange turn of events, this game turned into about 5 full minutes of Janning vs Afflalo death match. 
  • Siler hasn't looked all that good, but to be fair he's being hacked and not getting calls.


It looks like defense...but it obviously wasn't

Christian Petersen - Getty Images

It looks like defense...but it obviously wasn't

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The Phoenix Suns wrap up the preseason tonight at home against the Denver Nuggets and the game will largely be a night of rest — for everybody. The Suns are sitting guard Josh Childress (for obvious...

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Why is this man smiling? (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

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In the pre-season finale, the Suns will test their Amar'e-less, newly re-constructed squad and front office for realz against the Nuggets at U.S. Airways Arena tonight.

Josh Childress is out for this one with an injured finger. Other than that, we should see the real rotation, and hopefully a semblance of the real Suns we will see in the 2010-11 season.

Or maybe not. We have been smacked over the face this Summer by everyone from me to Alvin Gentry to Steve Nash talking about establishing chemistry and acclimating the new guys, adjusting to this and that. The bar has been set low, and it is understandable. There is really no reason to set it high, or for anyone to publicize their feelings of optimism. The underdog role suited the Suns just fine last season. Of course we fans would like a nice Bob Sarver autographed purple and orange teddy bear for us to cuddle up with for some solace and piece of mind. Unfortunately it's not going to happen

I'm sure you have seen the early season schedule for the Suns, and it is absolutely motherscratching brutal:

  • Game 1 @PTL
  • Game 2 @UTAH
  • Game 3 LAKERS
  • Game 4 SPURS

WTF? Are you kidding me? Am I whining like a prepubescent little girl? YES.

And after a pseudo lull consisting of Memphis, Atlanta, and Sacramento, it's back to insanity:

@Lakers-Denver-@Miami-@Orlando-@Charlotte-@Houston-Chicago.

Sadistic.

Evidence that the boys in NBA front offices still hate the Suns for one reason or another. Or is it evidence that virtually every game will be a struggle for the Suns until they find their legs and solidify their rotation and chemistry, if that happens at all.

Apologies for the pessimistic and very un-journalistic preview, but I think our Suns need another month of camp:

  • For Frye to find his shooting touch
  • For J-Chill to get healthy
  • For Warrick to turn into a rebounder. 
  • For Hedo to turn into a rebounder.
  • For the Suns to hit Big Surf for some more team bonding.

    Nevermind, let's get it on!

Grant_hill_eyes_medium

Game day Links:

Bob Young: Odds Say Phoenix Suns May Fizzle

Even Steve Nash concedes that the Suns might take months, not games, to hit their stride. "Chemistry is going to take time when you bring new pieces to the table - really sort of an abundance of them this year," he said Thursday. "In some ways it's a shame to make our way almost to the top of the mountain last year and four or five months later start at the bottom again.

SB Nation: Suns Finish Preseason With A Little Denver Nugget Fun, 7 P.M. AZT

Other big Nuggets news includes a fancy new neck tattoo for Chris Andersen, J.R. Smith being cleared by the Denver police in a choking incident (he allegedly choked a person, not a clutch shot), and Ty Lawson putting up better preseason numbers than Chauncey Billups.

Denver Stiffs

I am certain a preview will be posted soon.

Ridiculousness

According to a source familiar with the situation, [New York Knicks GM Donnie] Walsh has been motivated by information from Lee, a Knicks season-ticket-holder, that Anthony's first choice is far and away the Knicks. According to the source, Anthony has had several conversations in recent weeks with Lee, who has in turn informed Knicks brass of Anthony's feelings.

Poll
The Suns Began the 2009 Season 14-3. What is More Likely to Happen in 2010?

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