Suns lead 53-46 at the half. Goran Dragic looks completely in control and has four points, fives assists and four rebounds in 15 minutes. Luke Zeller has been interesting and the Suns are 8-12 from three.

The rookie Marshall looked lost. The Polish Gazelle is still grazing. Michael Beasley is passing and Wes Johnson is smoooth.

Sebastian Telfair was expected to make his preseason debut for the Phoenix Suns on Friday night after missing the team's first game Wednesday with what had been described as a minor wrist injury. Just about hour before tip in Friday night, it's now reported that "Bassy" will be held out of this game as well.

Telfair was slated to return for tonight's preseason game but Gentry said he has been scratched again due to the bruise above his wrist.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) October 13, 2012

Telfair played significant minutes for the Suns last season so his coach has a pretty good idea what to expect from the veteran backup point guard. The late scratch opens up more minutes for rookie Kendall Marshall to play behind starter, Goran Dragic at point.

The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on NBA TV.


When: Friday, October 12, 2012, 7:00 PM local time (10:00 EST)

Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

Watch/Listen: TV: NBATV, Radio: 620 KTAR


Team Bios:

Portland Trail Blazers 1-0 (preseason)

Out: Gerald Wallace (traded midseason), Marcus Camby (traded midseason), Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas

In: J.J. Hickson (acquired midseason), Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland, Adam Morrison, Jared Jeffries, Sasha Pavlovic and wait for it..... Ronnie Price!

The Blazers have completely overhauled their roster this offseason with a decided slant towards an injection of youth (sound familiar?). In Portland's first preseason game LaMarcus Aldridge (26) was the "veteran" of a starting unit that included Wesley Matthews (25), Hickson (23), Nicolas Batum (23), and Lillard (22). The reserves are led by two young bigs, Leonard and Freeland, accompanied by veteran journeymen Morrison, Jeffries, Pavlovic and Price.

Aldridge and Lillard led the way in Portland's 93-75 win over the Lakers, with 14 points each. Lillard was particularly impressive in his rookie debut as he augmented his scoring output with seven assists and five rebounds. The Blazers starters played well as a group and Portland used a 16-4 third quarter run to separate themselves from Los Angeles. The Blazers' other lottery pick, Leonard, and Adam Morrison (yes, Adam Morrison) both made an impact off the bench.

The only bad thing about a game between the Lakers and the Blazers is that they both can't lose.

Phoenix Suns 0-1 (preseason)

Out: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Robin Lopez and Michael Redd

In: Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall and Jermaine O'Neal

Injured: Channing Frye (out indefinitely), Shannon Brown (Halloween eye)

The Suns also retooled over the summer by adding a mix of savvy veterans (Scola and O'Neal) to complement their own infusion of youth (with varying degrees of polish vs promise). The Suns only return five players from last season's roster so the preseason will be of paramount importance as the coaches assess the effectiveness of different rotations and evaluate battles for playing time and roster spots.

The Suns kicked off the preseason with a game in Sacramento against the Kings. The starters played effectively to start the game as the Suns ran off 30 first quarter points. Michael Beasley was the best player on the court for the Suns as he demonstrated an ability to distribute (team high five assists) and score (14 points). The bench chipped in as Wesley Johnson led the team with 18 points and Markieff continued his aggressive play from the summer league with 16 points and seven rebounds of his own. Overall, there were many positive takeaways from the game despite the fact that the Suns lost. To the Kings. Sacramento used a 14-2 fourth quarter run to salt the game away, but it was encouraging to see that a lineup headlined by Marshall, Morris and Johnson kept playing until the last whistle.


What to watch for:

Dragic vs Lillard - This forecasts as a matchup we might get the pleasure of watching to for years to come. It would be an auspicious start to the head-to-head if Goran can give the rookie a proper introduction to the NBA.

Beasley & Johnson - Is the first game anomalous or an auger of a disturbing trend? Beasley and Johnson both played well in the first preseason game, but they combined for 21 shots from 18 feet out compared to only three from inside that mark. They shot at a high percentage, going 4-11 from three point range and 6-10 on shots between 18-21 feet, but there needs to be more balance in their games. Keep an eye on these two to see if they are attacking the basket or settling for jump shots in game two.

Trail Blazer front line - The Suns were vexed at times, six offensive rebounds during the decisive stretch in the fourth quarter, by the Kings size and length (despite only being -4 on the boards). The Blazers frontcourt of Leonard, Freeland and Aldridge (with Batum as a long three) is also slightly longer than the Suns. This will probably be an issue all year as Morris and Gortat may be the only above average rebounders on the team playing significant minutes and many teams have more length at the four and more seven footers than the Suns (one).

Pace - The Suns looked fluid at times, but I definitely wouldn't classify the speed of the game as frenetic. Although they scored 30 points in the first quarter, much of that was more to do with 57% shooting than the volume of plays. After repeated assertions that the team will push the pace, let's look to see if the Suns can make it north of 100 this game.

Bench - Telfair is expected to play, so it will be interesting to see what effect that has on a bench that was overmatched at times against the Kings. The Suns can't afford to perpetuate the leitmotif of the reserves squandering leads which has pervaded recent seasons. Brown is not expected to play, which mean more playing time for guys trying to make the roster, so the group tonight still won't be a finished product.


It's a longish article from Marc J. Spears of Y! and there's even some video about the Phoenix Suns 2012-13 season. I didn't watch the video (or really do more than scan most of the article) but you certainly can do both if you are one of those people who like to read every word written or said by the national media about your team.

Me, I've met enough of the national media guys that I'll pass. I tend to stick with what the local folks have to say about the teams they cover but hey, whatever. No offense to Mr. Spears either. He's very good at what he does.

One thing that did jump out at me from his story was this quote from Goran Dragic in which he recounts his recent meal (in Phoenix) with Steve Nash.

Suns transition into new era without Steve Nash - Yahoo! Sports
Some fans "were saying, 'Steve come back, Steve come back,' " Dragic said. "Other fans were saying, 'Steve we got a new point guard now and we are going to beat your ass.' "

Good on you, random restaurant patrons / Suns fans. At least the ones saying "we got a new point guard now and we are going to beat your ass."

It might not be true (at the team level) but way to represent.


Friday night. October. Preseason basketball. Suns vs. Blazers. #NextStartsNow

When I was approached with the prospect of exchanging information about the Suns and our upcoming opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, I jumped at the opportunity. No time like the present to get an inside perspective on a Western Conference adversary that has undergone wholesale changes. No better person to provide that perspective than someone who is eminently qualified as an authoritative source on all things Blazers, but since I couldn't track that person down I settled for Dave from Blazer's Edge. I jest, I jest.

We may not share the most cordial relationship with Portland fans and we may take a special satisfaction in plotting the team's demise, but everyone loves Dave. We each answered the same set of questions, with Dave's thoughtful responses listed below. My astute analysis blithering flummery can be viewed over at Blazer's Edge. Thanks again for investing the time in this collaborated effort, Dave. Enjoy Brightsiders.

What were the major moves for Portland this off-season?

There's been plenty of turnover in the Valley of the Rain this year, a situation familiar to Phoenix fans. You guys picked up Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Michael Beasley, Jermaine O'Neal...solid to semi-solid middle class acquisitions. General Manager Lance Blanks was like a nice dad to you. It's not like you got a Lamborghini but, you know, he outfitted the family with iPods over the summer and you'll have fun with them.

Facing similar circumstances, Portland General Manager Neil Olshey played cheap dad. When the two teams meet tonight Phoenix fans are going to show off your nice Apple products while Blazers fans sport their barely-functional, off-brand tablets. Adam Morrison, Sasha Pavlovic, Victor Claver, a used Jarred Jeffries, a used Ronnie Price...say hello to our Magnavorx SuperTab. Ooooh! 320x200 resolution! Wait, I didn't know you could have dial-up on a tablet. Where do you plug in the...oh. Right there. I see. As long as we stay within 20 feet of a phone jack, we're good. Thanks, dad!

To be fair, there's something to be said for not chasing the 8th seed. If you're not ready to contend, disposable guys on $1-2 million contracts are the way to go. Check that...a way to go. And that's the way the Blazers went.

On the bright side, Portland also got a couple of potentially-nifty pieces on rookie contracts through the draft. Damian Lillard is as poised as I've seen an expectation-laden rookie point guard. He's light years ahead of where he should be, especially since he has a reputation as a scorer first. He can do that, but he sees and runs the floor well. His shot is confident and well-timed. Aside from defense, Blazers fans will love everything about this kid.

Illinois center Meyers Leonard has incredible lateral and vertical floor quickness. This guy can scoot. He needs work on fundamentals on both ends, especially in the paint. But he's going to be a versatile 5 someday...not earth-shaking but nice.

Import Brit Joel Freeland is Portland's other new big man. The jury is out on his skill set but he's mobile and active at least.

It'll be fun watching these guys develop...mostly. Portland fans aren't expecting wins as much as a new start.

How do the early returns look after the first preseason game?

As much as one can judge from a single pre-season outing, good. Coach Terry Stotts' new schemes suit his players. The Blazers want to spread the floor with distance shooting (the one area in which most of these players excel) and use the extra real estate to free LaMarcus Aldridge in single coverage or some combination of wings working off screens, diving, and receiving passes. Portland's bigs will also take advantage of their speed to finish on the break. In the first game we saw a fair number of layups, dunks, and made threes...a far cry from the Brandon-Roy-heavy matchup-based offense of the past.

Defensively the Blazers have changed how they deal with screens, long a sore spot. Those mobile forward and centers show and assist their guards in slowing the dribbler instead of just switching.

As far as individuals, Lillard and Meyers looked impressive in Game 1. Jeffries, Price, and Morrison also shone. It was a positive outing.

What are you looking for from the team and/or specific players during the remainder of the preseason?

Execution, mostly. When your offense depends on fast breaks, cuts away from the ball, and three-pointers you have to stay committed and run it right. The Blazers no longer have the luxury of unstoppable matchups on either side of the floor. Aldridge is still money but he can't score 100. If the Blazers hustle, keep moving, and make sure the ball goes inside before it's kicked back out for the long shot they will succeed. As soon as they get lazy and start holding the ball those long jumpers after 0-1 passes become awful shots.

Realistically a skilled, motivated defense will still be able to take away what the Blazers want to do, so there will be plenty of ugly games this season. But we all need to see the Blazers keep their heads instead of just driving straight into the inevitable potholes. Make other teams take the game from you. Don't just give it to them.

What are the goals for this year and the long term direction?

Survive with confidence intact and positive momentum as a team. Also develop the young players, particularly those first-round picks. That's the agenda for 2012-13.

After that look for the Blazers to add talent via the draft and eventually free agency. Their eventual starting lineup would look decent in a couple years even without any changes. It could look great if the right move came along at shooting guard, small forward, or center. But Portland's bench is a stinky-awful eyesore right now. That's not meant to disrespect the players involved. Any of them could be a contributor in the right circumstances. But realistically you're looking at a huge swath of 10th-15th men populating Portland's pines. Having one 11th man with the potential to step up is great. Fielding 7 11th men and needed 5 of them to step up is not going to work. Adding talent will be high on Portland's priority list once this season closes.

Dave -- Blazer'sEdge

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