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Scrimmage Recap: Phoenix Suns win on Bledsoe game winner past Alex Len

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The Suns won. The Suns lost. They won by losing. They lost by winning.

Have I exhausted this theme yet?

The Phoenix Suns made a grand gesture to diehard fans by hosting a free scrimmage right here in Phoenix to close out their training camp.

The fans

More than 8,000 fans attended. Follow the storystream on this article for pictures and videos of the fan fest and scrimmage.

To give you a feel for the scene, I'll share a quickie video of the Gorilla using one of the team's oldest vendore as a pawn during a skit. He pulled the vendor, who'd been a vendor at both the Madhouse and the Stick/AWA/US Air..., out of the crowd to hold a basketball for a dunk, but then proceeded just to leave him here.

Fun times!

The past

The venue: their old stomping grounds, which brought out more 50+ year old former Suns than you can shake a stick at. Even the rarely seen Conny Hawkins, who joined the team in their second season in 1969 and is now 73 years old, came out to sign autographs.

At halftime of the scrimmage, the venerable Al McCoy introduced a couple handfuls of the old guard, ranging from Hawkins and Sweet D Walter Davis to Mark West, who still works for the Suns in various positions and still looks like he could play if he had to.

Here's a grainy Zapruder-like film of the halftime show.

The present

But the real joy was watching NBA players play basketball in Suns jerseys for the first time in four months. Unfortunately, the product being played wasn't as crisp as one might hope. Let's just call is scrappy.

"We're not there yet," Hornacek said afterward. "Obviously, when you have six or seven new players on the team, it's going to take a while. You saw plays where they just barely missed a pass and had some extra turnovers. It's because they're not that familiar with each other yet but they'll get there. I think they're all trying to make plays and passes to each other so that's good."

Of the 18 players on the roster (13 of whom are on guaranteed contracts), only seven of them played together on the Suns last year.

The coach

Jeff Hornacek established his career at the Madhouse, and he showed up in his warmups he'd worn in his final Suns game which happened to be just before the Suns moved further downtown.

Hornacek-old-warmups

Before the game, I introduced him to my wife and daughter and asked him about coming back to the Madhouse. He said he loved how small the place felt, with the low-slung roof and tight quarters that made 15,000 seats all feel like they were right on top of the players.

He also hoped that the old stadium could handle the activity, quipping "I hope the roof doesn't cave in."

After the game, I told him I was worried he was wearing his old uniform under the warm-ups, short-shorts and all. He laughed and said, "I couldn't go there."

I'm sure his wife and kids are glad for that.

Markieff Morris

One of those seven returning players, Markieff Morris, sat out with a hip strain suffered in their last scrimmage on Friday. Morris sat with the coaches of Team Cotton - one half of the roster was named 'Team Cotton' for former coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, while the others were 'Team McLeod' for former coach John McLeod.

Morris came onto the court just before introduction in his T-shirt, jeans and TeamFOE ball cap worn backwards on his head. The NBA dress code is not enforced during team scrimmages. When he was introduced along with the other players, he received a mix of cheers and boos with the cheers outnumbering the boos.

At one point before tip, coach Hornacek walked past Morris and clearly gestured to turn his hat around, with the bill facing forward, and Morris complied. He kept the hat forward the rest of the game as he watched from the sideline.

One of the most interesting parts of the game was trying to figure out the symbols on his hat. Apparently, the triangle on the front (which matches the tattoo on the back of his neck) is their TeamFOE logo. The back rim of the hat bore the word 'Famiglia'.

Some might call Morris' sit-out while wearing the FOE hat a sign of his continued fight against the team and the fans, while others would call Morris' full participation in training camp this week a sign that he's put it behind him. I'll leave that to you guys to figure out.

For what it's worth, he did stay to sign fan autographs afterward, just like all the players did.

morris-autographs

Ugly Spirited

Despite just playing 10 minute quarters, the first half of the scrimmage lasted nearly 45 minutes because of the scrappiness of play. Players had a hard time scoring, partly because they were rusty and partly because the two sides actually played defense against each other.

There were hard fouls given, lots of free throws, and very few open layups. Tyson Chandler was unable to complete any lob-catches for dunks, with Jon Leuer and Alex Len contesting everything.

"How many lob dunks did Tyson get tonight from that other group? He didn't get any," Hornacek said post-scrimmage. "That's because Jon was always right there. He's a smart player. He does the right things and that's going to be huge for us."

The second half went much faster with a running clock and a 7-minute 4th to get the players signing autographs before 8pm.

Distributed

The scoring was fairly distributed, with seven players scoring 10-15 points.

Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker each scored 15 points to lead the teams, with newcomers Sonny Weems (14), Jon Leuer (12) and Mirza Teletovic (12) right behind. Brandon Knight and Archie Goodwin rounded out the double-digit scoring with 10 points apiece.

Final

The last 20 seconds with the game on the line were quite exciting. Players suddenly played at about 20% faster speed and the crowd responded in kind.

With the game down to the final seconds, Alex Len first drew a foul and made both free throws to give his team the lead with 9 seconds left.

But then Eric Bledsoe used a Tyson Chandler pick to drive into the defense and beat Len to the cup for the game winning layup just three seconds later.

Brandon Knight came up short on a game-ending three point attempt, having to arch it higher than he'd like thanks to a strong contest from Chandler's outstretched arms.

All in All

All in all, it was a great night. The Suns offered free food and reserved seating for the media's families. Jim brought his daughter, who of course got a free T-shirt like she (apparently) almost always does. I was able to introduce my wife and daughter to many of the Suns front office and coach Jeff Hornacek, as well as my fellow media members... and the Suns dancers.

King-fam-scrimmage

I just wish my dad could have been there too. He's currently on a jaunt through Europe, so don't feel bad for him, but he would have loved attending another game at the Madhouse where he had season tickets for so many years, and would have loved seeing some of the old great he cheered for.