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Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, left, of Slovenia, leaps over Utah Jazz forward C.J. Miles, right, for a loose ball during the third quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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7 days ago: Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic, left, of Slovenia, leaps over Utah Jazz forward C.J. Miles, right, for a loose ball during the third quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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The Suns didn't exactly look horrible tonight, but it wasn't a masterpiece, even by preseason standards. Missed free throws (14) and periods of flat, unmotivated defensive play put the Suns into a hole.

The second unit showed their potential and managed to take a lead early in the fourth, but too many missed shots let that slip away. 

The good news is that the starters, for the most part, looked fine. It wasn't until Gentry started experimenting with his puzzle pieces that things went south, with only 11 points scored in the second quarter.

Hedo Turkoglu left in the second with only 9 minutes played. He was reported to have a back contusion and didn't return.

More game recap here, including postgame quotes:

Suns Drop Typical Preseason Game With Some Good Things, Some Bad Things - SB Nation Arizona

It's simply not meaningful to look at a practice session (which is all these games are) and read too much into anything. The entire month of October is training camp and the exhibition games are, at best, dress rehearsals but in reality much more like a fancy scrimmage.

"It's preseason and some players have -- how you say -- tough legs and still need some free days to recover. Hopefully, when season is going to start we're going to make everything," Goran explained.

Here's the bullet-by-bullet blow-by-blow of the game. Enjoy, I did.


1st Qtr

  • Robin with a great defensive play in the lane to start the game. Clearly, shaving and trimming his frizzy hair hasn't hurt him...he is sporting a bandage over the top corner (eyebrow-ish area) of his right eye. Could be a shaving accident but probably not.
  • Jazz being very creative with their offense. Feed the ball to Jefferson. Watch. Repeat.
  • Love watching spunky, peepy Nash this early in the season...trying to burn a mental image so in January can have point of reference/comparison
  • Hedo playing D all up in the Milsap's grill. Paul still hit a tough fade away 12 ft on the baseline but it was a well contested shot
  • Another great block from Robin. His touch is here on the offensive end but the defense is good...oops, just picked up his second foul.
  • Gentry experimenting like he said he would...playing Warrick at the 4 and Josh at the 3 with Nash, Frye and J-Rich. It's a puzzle, people. A people puzzle.
  • Whoa, AK47 with the floppy hair look and slight mullet. Wasn't prepared for that
  • Josh doing damage on the glass and then made a great pass to JRich but he probably should have gone back up with it instead. Damn him and his unselfishness
  • Suns pressuring the ball more in the back court or 3/4 court. Per Gentry at practice the other day the intent isn't to get a steal but to take time off the clock and disrupt the offensive flow
  • Othyus Jeffers got the start at the two for Utah. Ryan Thompson and Raja Bell also started there for the Jazz this preseason. Obviously, they don't have much confidence in that position right now
  • CJ Miles goes right down the middle of the lane for an uncontested layup. I can hear Gentry yelling (in my head) from here
  • Raja Bell gets a nice hand when he checked in...but no bells were rung for him
  • Gentry telling ref that Utah player was grabbing Suns player's jersey, "He's got to get in shape, you have to let him run"
2nd Qtr
  • Goran did a great job splitting two defenders, keeping his balance, drawing defenders and kicking to a wide open Dudley for a three...which JD missed
  • Game delayed while they clean up blood that must have been splattered by Dexter the way the are cleaning it from all different parts of the court
  • Goran and Hakim failed to connect on a pass. Warrick pointed up after telling Dragic to throw it at the rim, not at his chest
  • Jared certainly attacking more off the bounce this year
  • Kirilenko takes a lot of shit for a lot of reasons but that floppy-haired Russian can play, Goran beat him with a nice behind the back move but AK recovered and blocked the layup attempt
  • Suns taking way too many jump shots...getting nothing in the paint. The problem with the drive and kick offense is that it relies on hitting the shots when they are kicked. Not enough low post scoring options. Gentry knows it too but hasn't found a solution yet
  • Wow, Nash throw that ball ahead on the break and I looked up and it was Dudley and I was like, Oh nooooo, but Jared managed to catch and finish with a reverse layup in one nice motion. Impressive.
  • Clark getting some run with the starters at the PF...so far not looking so good but Gentry believes in giving you a chance to play so I expect we will see a lot of him tonight
  • Oh lawdy, why. WHY are you putting old people on the Kiss Kam!!! PLEASE NO
  • Jazz hit a lot of long-range shots...for the most part, the Suns defended well. 

3rd Qtr

  • Ok, so the Jazz are only 2-8 from three but that doesn't change the fact they hit a lot of jump shots
  • Both teams with 22 points in the paint...that's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It feels like both sides are jacking up a lot of J's. In fact, I'm just going to go with that and ignore the stat. Stats lie, my eyes don't.
  • WTH! It's going to be 98 degrees tomorrow! Enough already!!!
  • Hakim to Lopez, lob dunk! 
  • No Hedo to start the 2nd half. Interesting...back contusion, not returning. Not good.
  • See, CJ Miles his a jump shot which totally proves my point that stats lie
  • Deron Williams tripped Nash and then almost tripped himself rushing over to help him up. Respect.
  • Several times I've seen Josh defending Jefferson in the post. Not sure how or why this is happening. Warrick and Lopez on the floor as well. Need to pay attention more.
  • Nash just threw a bad lob to JRich on the break. You might want to see if your locust insurance is up to date (get it?)
  • Phew...Nash hit Warrick for a nice lob. The world is saved.
  • Frye delivers the no-lay up hard foul on Al Jeff...not much else in the way of intensity and physicality
  • Josh came to the game with bed-head and it's getting worse as the game goes on. Little spiky bits all over the 'fro. Get that man a pick, for Nash's sake.
  • Great push-ahead pass by Goron to Warrick who ran the wing well and of course finished
  • Earl back in, Warrick out. Gentry pissed about not stopping the ball in transition. Those two things may or may not be related.
  • Suns picking up the defensive intensity now with the second unit on floor. Dragic, Dudley, Frye, Clark, Goran, Childress against the Jazz starters (mostly). Of course, this unit also isn't getting anything done offensively
4th Qtr
  • Gentry going with a his second unit a lot, trying to get them time together and to see if he can get some defensive intensity. It waxes and wanes (which means it comes and goes).
  • Dragic providing a little offense from the 3pt line and Earl with a pretty finish at the rim over AK. Chillz with a run out and 1 as well. Crowd getting into it, chanting D-Fense with no electronic prompting. Suns respond on take lead, 84-83
  • Game's really picked up here. Suns not willing to roll over and let this one go. Now, if Frye could only hit one of the 38 open three's he's had
  • Here's the game story last few minutes: Suns get stop. Frye misses. Repeat. 
  • Jazz now up 92-86. Game slipping away. Gentry calls time out.
  • Yup, Gentry's seen enough. Jones, Janning, Dowdell in the game
  • Have a great night and a wonderful rest of your week. It's been a pleasure flying with you. We hope you come back and see us again some time
  • Gani Lawal with an Amare like baseline dunk over someone. Sweet....the 3rd unit did a good job closing the game


That's my ball! (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Rick Scuteri - AP

That's my ball! (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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Game Thread roll call:

Roll Call: sunsfanfromchicago, Alex Laugan, Omaha Sun, SunKing, Eutychus, keify34, Roy Weaver Stuckey, waxmonkey, Dantre, 8472species, Basketball John, Sun God, Beavis 25, KholdStare88, hcblankscreen, Dragic_is_Magic, bmiller16, Seth Pollack, azdcfan, arizonatribe, Wichita SunSteeler, rsavaj, Diego Queiroz, SUNS PORTUGAL, haremoor, East Bay Ray, Chafid, SunsFanForever, suns13, billyjohnson, Way2Nashty, suns68

Total Users: 32
Total Posts: 442

Here's the game previews

Game Preview, Preseason Game #4: Suns Host Utah, 7PM AZ Time - Bright Side Of The Sun

Hedo is still trying to fit in, as are Warrick and Childress. And Hill, Nash et al are already playing the "its going to take us a long time to gel" card. Apparently, what appears to be schoolyard bball with no plays and the PG magically creating every shot attempt off his own dribble is something a lot more complicated than that.

Phoenix Suns Preseason Home Opener Tonight, Jazz Time At 7 P.M. AZ - SB Nation Arizona

Gentry says we can expect the Suns starters to play in the low- to mid-20 minute range. The Suns face the Jazz again on Wednesday in Utah and then on October 28 in the second game of the regular season. Three times in two weeks is a lot of Jazz for Gentry. "They beat you up pretty good so there's no reason to get all beaten up in the preseason. I'll limit Steve (Nash) and some of the other guys' minutes some what and be able to take a look at some of these other guys in those situations," Gentry said after this morning's shoot around.

NBA Preseason Game #3 Preview: @ Phoenix Suns - SLC Dunk

Take a look at Utah bloggers' take on the game tonight.

Let's get this party started!


This offseason has brought plenty of change to ValleyoftheSuns through the re-designed site complete with player profiles, salaries and a schedule. Today I’m proud to announce the final...

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We might see these two dudes a lot tonight.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

More photos » Rick Scuteri - AP

We might see these two dudes a lot tonight. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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Finally, a real home game! The Phoenix Suns play the Utah Jazz tonight at US Airways Arena in downtown Phoenix with a 7pm tipoff.

Unfortunately, it's not scheduled to be on anyone's television set, despite the fact that the Suns would almost certainly get a high number of viewers. Let's all gather 'round the transistors tonight and listen to Al's silky voice tell us how wonderful the Suns' full court press is ruining Utah's best laid plans.

Seth should be at the game, as will other local reporters and maybe even some of you season ticketholders. (I, for one, will not. I get partial-season tix via a friend, and tonight's game is not one of those I "drafted" last weekend. My preseason game is the Golden State matchup next week.)

I'm sure the players are geeked up for the first home crowd they've heard in 4 months. I hope the arena is rocking, but likey it won't be. Fans are just like players. Preseason has no comparison to early regular season, which has no comparison to post-all-star games, which has no comparison to any round of the playoffs.

In fact, our game thread might have more "umph" than anywhere else. BSotS rocks.

So, what should we expect tonight?

Jazz notes

Word is that Utah will play something akin to a regular season rotation. No idea whether that will include regular-season intensity. 

The Jazz (2-0 this preseason, both against Portland) are still trying to incorporate new C Big Al Jefferson into the lineup. Tweets from Jazz reporters indicate that the transition has not been 100% easy yet, noting things like spacing and offensive flow as areas on which they need to work.

The Jazz also has Raja Bell as their new starting SG. He has not played regular basketball since the 08-09 season in which he was traded midseason from Phoenix to Charlotte.

In their first preseason game, they had 14 different players put points on the board, led by Deron Williams and Paul Millsap. Jefferson and Bell combined for only 11 points.

In their second game, also a win over Portland, they used 15 players (14 of whom scored), this time led by Fesenko and Williams. Jefferson was better (14 pts, 6 rebs) this time.

In both games, Portland seemed to play an only-slightly elongated rotation but still lost.

 

Suns notes

For their part, the Suns are on opponent #4 and game #4 overall and, for the first time, are playing in the friendly confines of US Airways Arena.

According to coach Gentry, expect the Suns to play harder than they have in any preseason game to date. The home crowd should certainly have some kind of effect on this effort as well, so I doubt we will be disappointed.

It's even possible the Suns will start making shots - like maybe more than 20% of their 3-pt attempts. I'd point out who's started cold this preseason, but the list is too long. Don't be surprised if the Suns sink 50+% of their 3s tonight. The lid can only stay on the hoop for so long. A flood's a comin'.

Seth has written a few articles (on Hedo and Childress) in the last couple days - check them out on BSotS and SB Nation AZ.

Hedo is still trying to fit in, as are Warrick and Childress. And Hill, Nash et al are already playing the "its going to take us a long time to gel" card.

Apparently, what appears to be schoolyard bball with no plays and the PG magically creating every shot attempt off his own dribble is in reality a lot more complicated than that.

It took Raja Bell more than a month to take open shots without a conscience. Same for Channing Frye. Jason Richardson took even longer, as did Shaq (in his own way). Heck, Dudley, Dragic and Lopez didn't even find their niche for months after coming to the Suns.

So give Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick some time to fit in.

In the meantime, if the team just comes out and plays harder than the other team every night, the Suns should still be able to rack up a lot of wins.

Something I noticed during the Mavs game (on TNT last weekend) was that the Suns were aggressive in the passing lanes, getting deflections and steals at a high rate. And since then, Gentry has said that he wants active defense to be a hallmark of this squad.

I am excited to see this development, because I think it's a great way to offset the rebounding problem. In fact, take a look at this article I wrote over the summer on the topic as well as this one three days later.

Excerpt here (for data to support this, click the links above):

There seem to be 2 parts of overall Defensive Efficiency: initial defense (resulting in a shot attempt, shooting foul or turnover) and second-chance defense (otherwise known as defensive rebounding).

A team can be good at defensive rebounding, but that doesn't matter if the opponent makes a lot of shots. In other words, you can't rebound a shot that goes through the hoop. Conversely, a team can mitigate their rebounding deficiency by playing better defense before the shot even goes up.

Initial Defense is the 'Pts/Play' column in the above table. As you can see, the Suns were tied for worst in Points Per Play among playoff teams. But being middle of the pack (15th) overall in the entire league helped them make the playoffs, despite being the second-worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA.

Second-chance defense is the prevention of offensive rebounds to extend the play. The Suns were very bad at preventing these, proven in their 29th-ranked 'defensive rebound rate'.

Defensive Efficiency - the 'Pts/Poss' column in the above table - takes both initial defense and second-chance defense into account.

The Suns initial defense ranked 15th, second-chance defense ranked 29th, resulting in an overall defensive efficiency (pts/poss) of 19th. Being the second-worst defensive rebounding team hurt the Suns, but not as much as you might expect.

Take a look at OKC and Portland. Portland was a much better defensive rebounding team than OKC (4th vs. 16th), yet finished with a worse overall Defensive Efficiency (13th vs. 8th) because Portland's initial defense was poor by comparison to OKC (15th vs. 1st).

So what does this mean to the Suns?

This: If our favorite team is going to struggle to rebound the ball, they can offset some of that with better initial defense.

Looks like the Suns feel the same way.

So get 'em, guys!

[Note by Seth Pollack, 10/12/10 2:39 PM MST ]

 

Phoenix Suns Preseason Home Opener Tonight, Jazz Time At 7 P.M. AZ - SB Nation Arizona
Gentry says we can expect the Suns starters to play in the low- to mid-20 minute range. The Suns face the Jazz again on Wednesday in Utah and then on October 28 in the second game of the regular season. Three times in two weeks is a lot of Jazz for Gentry.

"They beat you up pretty good so there's no reason to get all beaten up in the preseason. I'll limit Steve (Nash) and some of the other guys' minutes some what and be able to take a look at some of these other guys in those situations," Gentry said after this morning's shoot around.


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