Suns Show Progress, Still Fall to Jazz, 108-97

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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