The Phoenix Suns lost a very sloppy game to the Houston Rockets by the score of 95-92 . Both coaches chose to play most of their reserves, as only three of the ten starters in the game reached 20 minutes and only Terrence Jones and Kostas Papainkolaou for the Rockets played in the fourth quarter and closed out the game.

This game started off with an extremely sloppy first half. The Suns had nine turnovers in the first quarter and the two teams shot a combined 4-25 from three in the half. The leading scorer for the Suns was Eric Bledsoe with 7 and Goran Dragic didn't score again in the first half after scoring five quick points in the beginning of the game.

In my opinion it looked like everyone was off. The Rockets were missing a lot of good looks from three and the Suns were just extremely out of rhythm offensively. Both teams weren't all that bad defensively, but that wasn't even close to what led to this line at half. The Suns also missed eight free throws in the first half.

We saw the debut of Joe Jackson in this one. As our own Dave King pointed out, this is likely Jackson getting some time on the floor before his release like Jamil Wilson had last week. Jackson had a rough going of it and a lot of that had a lot to do with him matching up with Pat Beverley. He showed off his extreme speed, but ironically enough the speed of the NBA was what looked to have him rushing his play and turning the ball over.

The second half started with a quarter of runs. The Suns came in with a lot of energy and a handful of plays from P.J. Tucker saw them reclaim the lead. It wasn't long thought before the reserves came in for the Suns and that saw the Rockets go on a monster run to take the lead once again. You're not going to believe it, but the Suns made it the third run of the quarter at the end to head into the fourth with a six point lead thanks to a nice scoring spurt by T.J. Warren.

The fourth quarter started with a great display from Isaiah Thomas and Anthony Tolliver. Thomas did a great job of taking what the defense would give him and didn't force any shots, as he would even take his shooting form in mid-air and still pull off a pass. Thomas is still getting used to where his teammates are on the floor and we can check Tolliver off the list. Tolliver hit three from deep in about a 4 minute span in the second half. It looks like Tolliver and Thomas will be running a lot of pick-and-pop action for Hornacek this year.

Hornacek couldn't find a lineup to work all night until this point where Thomas/Goodwin/Warren/Tolliver/Barron played with each other for the first eight minutes of the quarter. To be honest this lineup was just playing basketball. They weren't doing anything too special on either end, but were solid enough to give the Suns a cushion. Thomas in particular was the standout as well as Barron doing a decent enough job in the key.

This game would have a preseason ending to it as Tyler Ennis checked in for Thomas around the 4 minute mark to close the game out. Ironically enough this is one of the biggest skills that Ennis has in being a clutch late game performer so I was eager to see how it would go.

Ennis brought that quick and methodical playmaking to the point guard spot, but it didn't produce anything. The Suns went to Earl Barron in some situations to close this game out. Yes, you read that right. Barron, who I mentioned earlier, was probably the most impressive Suns player tonight. He finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The game would end as it should have, sloppy. Archie Goodwin had a humongous turnover on his own end on a drive which led to a Rockets fast break. The Rockets missed the open three, got an offensive rebound, missed that, and then T.J. Warren turned over the rebound as he tried to move it in transition. Isaiah Canaan got the ball right away with the and-1 and that gave the Rockets the 93-90 lead with 30 seconds left in the game.

That unit left on the floor didn't give the Suns any three-point threat except for Tolliver and that resulted in an ugly step-back three attempted by Archie Goodwin with 11 seconds left which he missed. The Rockets made one of their free throws and that would do it.

The Suns will be back in action on Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Update: James Harden is also going to be out for the Rockets. This is something that was not mentioned in our game preview earlier today.

Once again, you can check out the game on NBA TV or on AZ Sports 98.7 FM at 5pm AZ time.

Kostas Papanikolaou and Joey Dorsey are replacing Harden and Dwight Howard in the Rockets lineup. No word on the Suns starters as of yet or the official five for the Rockets, but be on the lookout for a quick edit sometime before tip-off with the official lineups.

EDIT: Starting lineups..

Suns: Dragic, Bledsoe, Tucker, Markieff Morris, Plumlee

Rockets: Beverley, Papanikolaou, Ariza, Jones, Dorsey

Do you think the Suns can keep their undefeated preseason alive?

Time: 5 p.m. MST TV: NBATV Coming into tonight’s game, both the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets have been able to handle their first two opponents, meaning that one of these teams will taste defeat...

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All the blogger NBA previews for the Southeast and Southwest divisions.

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks: Peachtree Hoops
Charlotte Hornets: At The Hive
Miami Heat: Hot Hot Hoops
Orlando Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post | Orlando Magic Daily
Washington Wizards: Bullets Forever

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks: Mavs Moneyball
Houston Rockets: The Dream Shake
Memphis Grizzlies: Grizzly Bear Blues
New Orleans Pelicans: The Bird Writes
San Antonio Spurs: Pounding the Rock

Index of all SBNation Previews

Additional Preview Features from Sonics Rising

Here is your formal weekly recap for the Phoenix Suns with a look at all the games, the news and notes, key stats, NBA Draft updates, Quote of the Week, and more. Let's get it...

The Phoenix Suns (2-0) kicked off their pre--season with an international twist knocking off South American power Flamengo and then welcomed to town likely competition for the "non-playoff team from last year most likely to make that leap this year" in the Denver Nuggets. They knocked them both off, looking sloppy overall, but getting the wins nonetheless. 

Game Recaps

vs. Rio De Janeiro Flamengo - W (100-88) Full Recap

vs. Denver Nuggets - W (97-89) Full Recap

Right now the Suns look more like the team should have looked last year with 10 new faces to the rotation. However the situation this year is that they have two rookies to work in and free-agent addition Isaiah Thomas, but the roster as a whole was brought back from last years 48 win team.

The team is building chemistry. That takes time as Eric Bledsoe is adjusting to missing the final 43 games of the season bulk of the final 39 games and Markieff Morris is adjusting to a likely new role that does not feature veteran Channing Frye in front of him as insurance. Early on against Flamengo it was rough to watch with lots of turnovers and sloppy play as they trailed all the way into the mid-third quarter.

Defensively there have been some positives as they are holding opponents to 88.5 points per game while limiting their shooting to 39.7% from the field (26.0% from three) using their speed and athleticism to force bad shots.

On that note they are forcing 22.5 turnovers per game getting out in transition (19.0 fast-break points per game) and getting teams to play into their style, which is easier said than done. The Suns are build for the frenetic and the chaotic with their athletic waves of guards and wings that get in passing lanes, cause deflections, and then chase down the ball for easy scoring opportunities. That is their identity.

Sure, in the half-court the Suns are a competent scoring team with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic working the pick-and-roll game, breaking down the defense, and creating easy scoring opportunities. Bledsoe especially looks like he is ready to be the half-court offensive catalyst through two games.

The team needs better overall cohesiveness on the offensive end and the rebounding needs a lot of TLC, but the offense is as dynamic as we thought it would be and it is in its infancy right now in terms of fluidity and comfort.

Let's dive deeper into this week:

Key Stat

25.0 PPG 6.0 RPG 5.5 APG

Granted, last year as individuals in vastly different roles Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green averaged 36 points per game while starting for more than half the season. They were asked to be different people in Sacramento and a Phoenix without Eric Bledsoe last year respectively, but this year, in a more confined role, they are more important to the success of a team with a higher ceiling. As a bench duo that would be more than three NBA teams last year and one of the best pairs in the league overall. Throw in a productive Anthony Tolliver and Alex Len and this could be a massive weapon for the Suns this season.

Quote of the Week

"That first group in there with Anthony (Tolliver) - they were moving the ball a little bit quicker. Anthony keeps it spread out, so we'll continue to play with it and see what works best." -- Coach Jeff Hornacek

Rookie Watch

  • T.J. Warren: 18 minutes 13 points 7 rebounds 1 assist 50% FG (3-5 3PT)
  • Tyler Ennis: 13 minutes 4 points 50% FG

Neither rookie played significant minutes in either pre-season game and Ennis came in initially with butter fingers and nerves of glass. After the first few minutes though the rookies looked like they belonged on an NBA court. Ennis did not have a major punch in the boxscore while running the team and facilitating the offense, but Warren shot the ball about as good as anyone could have hoped knocking down threes and scoring nearly a point per minute. It is just two games and one was against a South American team. Overall these two are going to look very good in their D-League uniforms while the Suns try and figure out their rotations. When they get called up they will contribute.

2015 NBA Draft

  • Los Angeles Lakers: (Top 5 Protected) Wow, they looked like a dumpster fire the other day against the Warriors and that will be an every 3-4 games type of Lakers performance. Buckle up. This could get ugly. The Lakers played their starters and Julius Randle quality minutes so this was not a blitzing of the scrub unit. Oh, wait, Jeremy Lin wasn't in action. That is what it was.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: (Top 12 Protected) The ideology that they are going to be terrible is a false notion when you look at the productive NBA players on the roster, Rubio as they leader, and an army of young athletes ready to play. That does not mean they are playoff bound, unless they were Eastern Conference down and bound, but they should hover around that protection line this season.
  • Phoenix Suns: Where else would the Suns draft? They will be somewhere between 13-15 with the stacked Western Conference and potential for so many 50+ win teams. The team is building something and this is another step in that process.

News & Notes

  • Former Suns player Michael Beasley signed to play in China.
  • Alex Len is to be reevaluated for his "pinky" injury this Wednesday, October 15th.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 5 points (3 rebounds, 2 assists) in 19 minutes against the Spurs in pre-season.

Suns History Lesson

This week in Suns History: October 11th, 2008: The Suns lost to the Nuggets, 77-72, in a pre-season game at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It was the first outdoor game in nearly three decades...

This week in Suns History: October 13th, 1998: The NBA announced it is canceling the first two weeks of the NBA season due to stalled negotiations with the NBA and the NBA Players Association...

Previewing the Week Ahead:

Monday, October 13th @ Houston Rockets (2-0)

Thursday, October 16th vs. San Antonio Spurs (1-1)

This week there is a Texas-Two-Step for the Suns as they hit the road for the first time against Dragic's former team in Houston then return home to take on the NBA Champions. These will both be quality tests as the Rockets are trying to figure things out with their rotation and are playing with purpose to as high a degree one can in pre-season, much like the Suns are. They have questions with their forward rotation and back-up guards. The Rockets are one of about 3-5 teams that have enough questions about their team make-up and identity where they might be fighting for a playoff berth rather than just getting one given to them like years more talented team.

The Spurs are the Spurs. Like every year they have a locked in primary rotation and will tweak the bench accordingly as they always do. The Suns could pull out another 2-0 week with continued practices, chemistry building, and a rhythm on the court.

Hey, Ish Smith, hi from everyone here at Bright Side. Good luck in Houston and we all are rooting for you no matter where you land.

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