The Suns started tonight's game with a slightly altered line-up of Eric Bledsoe, Shannon Brown, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. This is what the preseason's made for, especially for young teams and new coaches who are looking at different line-ups and playing with the rotations to see what works and what doesn't.
Despite playing on the road with a new starting line-up and a roster full of new faces, Phoenix immediately jumped out to a hot start and took the lead, mostly behind the play of Eric Bledsoe and the shooting of Marcus Morris.
Things heated up even more for Phoenix when Dragic entered the game and hit seven of nine shots for 14 points in the first half, and although the Blazers fought back in the second quarter to briefly take the lead, the Suns were able to sustain and lead the Blazers 56-51 at halftime.
The third quarter was once again all Suns. Phoenix came out hot and began to separate themselves from Portland all the way into the fourth quarter, where they extended the lead by as much as 19. However, Portland once again fought back and gradually closed the gap; trailing by only four points with just three minutes to play.
Still, the Suns were able to sustain and hold off the Blazers to a quality win on the road against a good Western conference opponent. Preseason or not, the Suns have to feel good about tonight's win.
Goran Dragic, or should I say Drahj-itch (inside joke for those who watched/listened to the Portland feed and commentary) unleashed the Dragon tonight with 19 points on just 7/9 shooting, to go along with his 5 assists in just 17 minutes of play.
Marcus Morris, who got the start at the three, impressed in his 29 minutes of playing time. He scored 15 points on 5/10 shooting, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished 2 assists, and also got 1 steal.
Channing Frye also picked up right where he left off with his 14 points off the bench on 5/6 shooting, including 3/4 from behind the arc.
Although Eric Bledsoe couldn't seem to find his shot tonight (only six points on 3/11 shooting), he did plenty of other things to help the team, such as contributing a team high 9 assists to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 19 points on 7/15 shooting, and 4 assists in 25 minutes of play. Lillard is a very potent scoring threat, but the team actually seemed to run more efficiently with Mo Williams at the point...who led the Blazers with 7 assists to go along with his 9 points.
Allen Crabbe was also impressive, scoring 14 points on 6/11 shooting from the field; currently tying the high score for a rookie thus far in the preseason.
Will Barton helped inject the Blazers with energy off the bench, scoring 13 points on a very efficient 5/6 shooting.
Other Game Notes:
- Miles Plumlee continues to impress. In addition to his ability to finish with athletic dunks, he has a nice turn around jump hook that he's added to his game that was more effective than not, and also does a good job of bothering bigs on defense in the low post. He still needs to work on his shooting though.
- Gortat runs the two-man well with Bledsoe...I'd like to see more of that this season. Oh, and he won tonight's match-up against Robin (Sorry Seth)
- Archie Goodwin is still trying to figure things out, but the flashes are definitely there. Fans need to have patience with him.
- Alex Len looked a step slow out there, as should probably be expected from a rookie after two ankle surgeries. He has the size and potential, but he may take a while to adjust to the speed of the NBA.
- Gerald Green can jump really high
- The Suns are definitely at their best when pushing the tempo and scoring quickly...a good sign for where this team appears to be headed.