Although Thursday night’s contest was played indoors, unlike the Suns’ Oct. 10 preseason victory over Dallas, Phoenix sure seemed to let it rain in the second game of the team’s home and home...

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Chill is always a bright spot. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

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Chill is always a bright spot. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

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Unlike some NBA box scores, this one is all you need to look at to assess what happened:

  • The starters + Childress and Frye= +16, the rest of the team= -71.
  • The Suns were beaten on the boards 51-34.
  • The Suns shot 44% from the field and 28% from behind the arc.
  • The Suns committed 20 turnovers resulting in 20 Jazz points.
  • The Suns were beaten in the paint 50-40.

Overall, this was a typical preseason game -- typically slow, typically ugly. The usual suspects showed up and played fairly well. Of the starters, only Turkoglu and Lopez played in the second half:

  • Hedo Turkoglu hit 3 straight threes in the first, finishing with 13 points in 19 minutes.
  • Grant Hill scored 10 points (all on free throws) while Steve Nash dished off 5 assists. 
  • Robin Lopez went for 9 and 5 in 14 minutes of action.
  • Jason Richardson tied with Garret Siler for most rebounds with 7.

As for the rest:

  • In 32 minutes, Matt Janning was awful. He missed open jumpers (3-9), turned the ball over thrice (I swear there were more), and overall was totally overmatched. As 7-Footer noted, [they gave him the rope] "to hang himself with." And he did just that. He played like you'd expect a rookie to play (Hello, D-League, Matt). The bright side of his game is he kept trying, if that is a bright side.
  • Garret Siler looked decent with 7 boards, 11 points, and some surprisingly athletic moves I wasn't sure he could make, including a reverse dunk off of a Nash feed. Still, he doesn't wait to roll long enough and seems a bit unsure of himself.
  • Josh Childress played like Josh Childress, slashing to the hoop and finishing. He didn't log a rebound, but it wasn't due to lack of hustle or effort.
  • Hakim Warrick picked up 8 and 3. He was shaky from more than 10 feet out. Shaky in the sense that he didn't really know what to do with the ball from that far. From 5 feet or less, he can finish, no problem. I'm still not sold on the guy and would like to see him hit the rack a little more. On more than one occasion, he could have moved his feet and gotten in front of a driving defender. Instead, he played like a statue and prayed for interior help.
  • Earl Clark showed me nothing other than he can hit uncontested free throws in preseason. To be fair, he didn't play a whole lot (15 minutes in the second half) and true to Alvin Gentry's words, his defense will get him on the floor. Still, he shut no one down and played ... "meh" basketball.
  • Goran Dragic went 1-5 from the field, but looked a bit more poised this time out. While he was more relaxed, he still missed some open jumpers he normally buries. He'll come around.
  • Zabian Dowdell looked like garbage in the first half, launching up any shot he could take. But in the second half, he settled down, ran the offense with confidence, and finished with a respectable 8 points and 3 assists.
  • Channing Frye continued to shake off the rust. To his credit, he blocked 4 shots, but he continued to suffer on the defensive end.

Commentary

We all knew that the preseason would be a test to see who meshes with whom and who would pick up time in the rotation, so this game wasn't too disturbing in my humble opinion. But it's the same stuff we all worried about weeks ago that is haunting the Suns: defense and rebounding. Gani Lawal didn't play until garbage time, so his role of Amundsonesque guy is still a TBD.  But when JRich outrebounds Hedo and Lopez, you get a little nervous. And perhaps if Lopez plays 35 minutes, he picks up 10, and if Grant Hill plays 25+ he picks up 5-7. We can only hope Frye will pick up 5 boards, and Dudley will get his as well (he sat this one out).

If I'm Alvin Gentry, Lon Babby and or Lance Blanks, I'm thinking of either keeping Siler around as insurance if Lawal can't pull it together or I'm looking for another dirtworker, because what the Suns have right now won't hack it.

Janning is not serviceable as a backup and Dowdell appears to have the edge. At least he can drain a shot and run the offense for 5-7 minutes if need be. But is it worth paying Dowdell to sit on the bench with Dragic, Hill, and Turkoglu around that could conceivably run an offense in an emergency? I don't think so.

What concerns me about Siler were the nonexistent picks he set and how C.J. Miles got up higher than him on a jump ball. Siler plods about, and while he takes up space and seems capable to hang with the big boys, he doesn't have the Lopez aggressiveness that could make a difference. The fact that Miles tied him up to begin with is kind of ridiculous. I suppose there's Dwayne Jones around still, right? 

Feel free to discuss

**As an aside, if you are wondering about D-League rules, here's an article that may help, courtesy of the ever-handy and consistently communicative Alex Laugan.



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Last year the Suns ranked 19th in defensive efficiency (111.4) and tied for 11th in field goal percentage allowed (45.2).

That's slightly around average but considering they spent the better part of the season in the mid-20's in points per 100 allowed, it also represents a sharp increase at the end of the season.

This year, without Amare to score at will and get to the line, Alvin Gentry is telling his team that they have to be a GREAT defensive team to do well.

Here's that story.

Phoenix Suns Plan On Disruption To Be A GREAT Defensive Team - SB Nation Arizona
"For us to be a good team, we're going to have to be a great defensive team."

When I heard Grant say that, I had to ask again to make sure I didn't miss something.

"Grant," I asked, "you do or you don't have to be a great defensive team?"

"I think we will," he said. "I think that's the personality and make-up of this team."

How good defensively do you think this team can be?

Poll
How good of a defensive team can the Suns be this season?

  504 votes | Results


PHOENIX - OCTOBER 12:  Hedo Turkoglu #19 of the Phoenix Suns lays up a shot against the Utah Jazz during the preseason NBA game at US Airways Center on October 12, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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9 days ago: PHOENIX - OCTOBER 12: Hedo Turkoglu #19 of the Phoenix Suns lays up a shot against the Utah Jazz during the preseason NBA game at US Airways Center on October 12, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Tonight, your Phoenix Suns travel to Utah for a preseason matchup against the Jazz.

As the preseason progresses, these games are becoming more meaningful. The rotation is shaping up, the starters are playing more minutes, and Alvin Gentry is getting down to serious business. It is clear another 51 point loss could signal off a panic both in and outside of US Airways Center. 

It appears that Hedo Turkoglu is feeling better after aggravating his back in a bout of either NBA basketball or vigorous television watching, and should start. That is certainly good news. Other than that, I'm hoping to see some improvement, namely in the following areas:

  • Defense - the numbers show the Suns have been giving up too many points
  • Offense - the numbers show the Suns have not been scoring enough points to win games
  • Rebounding - rebounding is not the same as defense and the Suns need to rebound better, more specifically obtain more rebounds than Utah tonight
  • Three-Point Shooting - as a facet of scoring, the Suns three point shooting has been poor; I'd like to see some more accurate three point shooting.

There are other areas of improvement, I am sure, but that is kind of the bulk of it.

On a more serious level, it's time that some individuals come out tonight to play ball:

  • Gani Lawal: He should be watching Lou Amundson videos if he isn't already. Maybe buy a beach cruiser and get a pony tail extension if that works. Whatever motivates the kid, let's get it on. The training camp raves are history. It's time to throw some of that muscle around and prove you belong on the floor with the big boys.
  • Hedo Turkoglu: I believe he's trying. I believe he's been a bit dinged up. But I'd like to see 18/8/5 from him while shooting 48-50%. Too much to ask? Well if so, maybe it's time to get on the Nash diet and throw your TV out the window. We're getting to prime time and many of the Suns keys to success lie in his hands.
  • Hakim Warrick: Averaging 10 and 2 in the preseason. How about a few more boards? Time to impress your buddy Wil over here at BSOTS. Maybe 15/7? You're ready, Hakim.
  • Earl Clark: Um, nevermind, no one's expecting much from you. Let's shoot for just trying not to embarrass ourselves out there, Earl. 
  • Channing Frye: He's got an excuse (the baby thing), but he needs to get the stroke on track. Hire up another nanny and tell your wife you've got work to do. You can be a father any day, but the NBA doesn't last forever (extreme sarc). Seriously, though, how about a few threes, several rebounds, and some D.
  • Dwayne Jones: Does it matter? I like Dwayne; l like his size. I'd like to see him make the team. In 17 minutes against Sacramento, he pulled down 5 boards, yet had more turnovers than blocks. Guess it doesn't matter; preseason stats don't hold much water, but I want to see a more aggressive, active Dwayne. And maybe a Dwayne that can hit a free throw or two.

As for the rest, more of the same from the starters and J-Chill. Not that there isn't room for improvement, but the more court time together, the better.

For a more journalistic and interesting preview, check out AK-47's hair and  what Seth has to say over at SBN.

And just for the heck of it, why not a daily poll?:

Poll
Who's Next to Be Shown the Door?

  295 votes | Results


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