There was a lot to like about this game...
The Point Guardians of the Valley were unleashed tonight and they are here to rule the basketball landscape if they deem fit. When the Phoenix Suns went small the game changed dramatically as the speed, energy, and athleticism of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas were too much for the short-handed San Antonio Spurs.
In the end the Suns coasted to a 121-90 final winning their last home pre-season game start to build some chemistry.
Early on the Suns were carried by Markiff Morris and Dragic as they combined for 17/24 points and 3/6 assists early on giving the team a slight edge after the first quarter. It was a rough start for Miles Plumlee as he missed his first three shot attempts and got into foul trouble, but turned things around in the second half. Other than a choppy first quarter this game was all Suns from the second quarter to the finish line.
Of course, it should have been as the Spurs only had one of their franchises Big Four in the Valley as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Greg Popovich all did not make the trip along with Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills.
Tony Parker played 22 minutes with 9 points and 4 assists with Ettore Messina coaching the team.
A 19-9 run to close the half and then an 18-7 run to start the third quarter sealed the deal for the Suns in this game. This game was another opportunity, no matter how depleted the Spurs roster was by design, to go out there and build some more chemistry with the new players and their roles. There is no denying the fact that the first three pre-season games were sloppy and not what the coach had ordered, despite the results.
This was a display of how the Suns can throw waves-and-waves of athletic scorers on the court to bring the energy, but more importantly they were doing it on the defensive end.
Overall the team finished with 17 steals led by Dragic's 3 that all seemed to lead to points in some way, shape, or form. The defense turns into offense philosophy was on full display. Not the, "run and score and the other team will eventually top out so we will win" strategy, an actual defense based gameplan that when clicking on all cylinders like tonight, can be daunting. The Point Guardians of the Valley were unleashed.
The steals turned into fast break points, 33 of them, and opened up the offense for so many things.
Everyone was hitting threes, Goran (1/2), Bledsoe (2/3), Thomas (4/5), Markieff (1/1), and even Archie Goodwin knocked down one. The 33 points from downtown and 29 fast-break points set a bench mark for how this team wants to play. Create havoc on defense, score in transition, and then when the opponents are on their heels knock down threes at a high rate.
For the game Dragic led the way with 20 points and 6 assists (23 minutes), Markieff right behind him with 17 points 7 rebounds (23), Bledsoe 16 points 6 assists (27), and Thomas with 15 points 5 assists (20).
Look, this was the rudderless version of the Spurs of course, for lack of a better description, they were the Austin Spurs tonight. In the end the Suns used this as a tune-up for the Point Guardians and gave the league a taste of what these three can do together.
Next Game: @ Los Angeles Lakers (1-3) Tuesday night at 7pm AZ Time