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Suns vs D-League Select: The Tale of Two Dragi

The story of this game is Goran Dragic, who came out of his shell to put up 17 points and 8 assists in the Suns 95 - 89 win over the D-league Select (DLS) team. His performance wasn't stellar from start to finish and by no means can be considered "break out," but it was an improvement and he knew it.

A smiling and jocular Dragic had this to say about himself after the game, "I was talking with Alvin (Gentry) and he told me 'Dragic, finally you showed up in Vegas' and I said yeah. [chuckle]"

There is no doubt that the entire Suns organization was looking for a better performance tonight from next year's backup point guard and he delivered that tonight.

He started the game with the first shot, a missed attempt driving to his left, and then settled in for a first half that was stifled by a combination of his natural point guard tendency to defer to his teammates and a defense that was focused heavily on stopping him. He had 3 points in 12 minutes of play until the final ticks of the half when he dunked the ball on a break away. He then had a beauty of a play, taking a sidelines inbound pass and blazing to the rim for a layup at the buzzer. It was just one play, so I don't want to get too carried away, but it was reminiscent of Leandro Barbosa.

Goran explained that he was focused on getting his teammates involved, which opened up the floor for him late in the game. He certainly got help with the spacing from Jiri Hubalek (8-11 for 20 points) and Micah Downs (8 -11 for 19 points). He was trapped frequently coming off screens and he made good decisions to find the open man.

The second half started with the DLS playing with far more passion and fire on both ends. They outscored the Suns 27 to 13 in the period and turned a 55-53 Suns lead into a 62-67 deficit going into the fourth. Dragic (2 points) and the entire team looked flat.

The come back in the fourth quarter was impressively led by Goran's 8 points, coming mostly on blow-bys to the rim which gave him the confidence to finally hit an outside jump shot. Mix in 8 assists and only two turnovers and I think we can call this game a success for the young Slovenian. By the end of the game his body language had improved and he at least looked like he was having fun. It's no great display of floor leadership, but it's a good start.

Goran also recorded his first technical foul playing in the US. It wasn't deserved. He had a couple of words for the ref on a questionable call and had turned and was walking away when he got T'd up. He certainly didn't get his money's worth on that one.

Neither Goran nor Suns VP David Griffin were happy with the pace of the game despite putting up 95 points in 40 minutes. I was told before the game that Zabian Dowdell would play together with Dragic to help speed things up, but that didn't happen. Dowdell (6pts/4asst) played his 14 minutes opposite to Goran's 25.

This game was all about Goran just as the first game was about Robin and the second game was the Earl Clark debut. Both of those guys were unimpressive in this one.

Robin did post a double double, but unfortunately he had 10 fouls to go along with his 10 points. Robin, perhaps distracted by his brother Brook sitting courtside, picked up 4 quick fouls in 3 minutes and had 9 halfway through the 3rd period. He did manage to play 4 minutes in the fourth before fouling out with about a minute or so to go.

Lopez' best stint by far came in the second quarter where he displayed the defense in the paint we'll be looking for come October. Playing against smaller and quicker guys who frequently pulled him from the rim, he still managed to recover quickly to alter and block shots. He had 4 in the first half, including an emphatic weak side swat that drew oohs and ahhs from the tiny crowd. Robin even threw in a stare down on his prone opponent.

Offensively Robin drew a lot of attention in the post and only managed 1 for 5 against the much shorter Selects in the first half. He did go 3 for 3 in the second with two assisted feeds and one nice face up bank shot from the left block extended.

Robin's best moves of the night were walking towards his brother and father several times to exchange words. I couldn't quite make out what the conversations were about, but it was hilarious to see Robin during small breaks in play head over to share a few words with his family.

Clark was a non-factor in the affair. He finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds and really didn't do much to garner attention.

We have to also give credit to a well-coached and well-prepared D-league team. They played with more cohesion and energy than most teams here and they certainly deserved to be in the game. The were impressive with their activity and out-rebounded the Suns 41 to 34, led by 10 boards from point guard Curtis Stinson, who played 28 minutes off the bench.

And that's a wrap for my 2009 Summer League coverage. I am pretty beat after working most days on other stuff from 7am to 1pm and then watching games until 10pm. Not to complain -- it's been a blast hanging out with some great people and watching some up and coming stars and some up and coming role players and some up and coming busts, but I am ready to go home in the morning. Mike Lisboa will be staying one more night, so he'll have tomorrow night's game against the Grizzlies covered. Hopefully, we will see Clark, Dragic and Lopez all play well at the same time.

Here's the audio for a very happy Goran:




Bonus audio: A few words from ASU stud and #3 pick James Harden


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