Where: Here, at Talking Stick Resort Arena
When: Tonight, 7:00 PM AZ Time
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen to the great Al McCoy: 98.7 FM
The great thing about the NBA is that the next game is right around the corner. That’s what two NBA head coaches are telling their players after each got drubbed in their season opener in front of their home crowd.
The Phoenix Suns began the bloodletting on Wednesday night, losing to the Portland Trail Blazers by league opening-night record 48 points. Don’t worry it gets worse. At one point, the Suns’ deficit was as deep as 58 points.
The Los Angeles Lakers tried to say “hold my beer” but couldn’t get their own deficit any deeper than 30 to the retooled Clippers, and ended up using garbage time to their advantage to cut the final deficit to a respectable 16 points.
Now these teams face each other in game two, licking their wounds and hoping to notch what will likely be a rare win.
Let’s take a closer look at the teams.
The Lakers had an awful debut last evening when they played host to the roomie at the Staples Center, the Clippers, on TNT.
The Clippers shot only 39% for the game, but still had a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter (95-65). Blake Griffin scored 29 points, and combined with DeAndre Jordan to pull down 36 rebounds. Between just the two of them. The Clips had a whopping 69 rebounds for the game.
The Lakers could not get into their offense, despite having savant Lonzo Ball at the helm. They took only 16 three pointers (making 4). Ball and Brandon Ingram, their last two #2 overall picks, combined to make 4 of 21 shots.
Players who DID play okay for the Lakers: Larry Nance Jr. made 7-11 shots for 14 and pulled down 12 rebounds. Rookie Kyle Kuzma had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Jordan Clarkson had 18 points and 2 of everything else off the bench.
So it wasn’t a good opening night for the Lakers, who some national media thought might compete for a playoff bid this year.
But hey, at least they’re not the Suns amiright?
Here’s the high point of game one, replete with the last bit of random synergy we’d see.
At that point, the game was 9-2 in favor of the Suns. Life was good!
Rookie Josh Jackson had five of the nine points, on a three pointer from the corner and this slam in transition. Devin Booker had the other four.
Then... well... the Blazers outscored the Suns 116-51 (not a typo!) over the next three quarters of game time.
“We just got our asses kicked from beginning to the end,” Devin Booker said. “It was a reality check for us.”
This only a few hours after Suns’ managing partner Robert Sarver went on the radio to extoll the Suns young roster, even saying he told the team earlier that day he believed they could have a winning record this year. uhh...
T.J. Warren looked completely out of sorts sharing the forward spots with rookie Jackson, who only scored a couple more baskets the whole rest of the game after those game-opening buckets.
Marquese Chriss looked... petulant and pouty coming off the bench after starting 75 games as a rookie. Like he’s forgotten how to play basketball.
Devin Booker looked limited. Maybe he’s nursing that sore knee, but he didn’t have any ice or treatment post game so I don’t think that’s the problem.
Eric Bledsoe looked checked-out. He takes ownership for his lack of leadership, so I hope it’s just a one-game thing.
“I don’t think I lead the guys tonight,” he said after the game. “Pulling everybody in, calming people down.”
But hey it’s the Lakers on Friday and a chance to redeem themselves.
Patrick Beverly took it personally and made sure Lonzo Ball did not have a good opening game. Will Eric Bledsoe do the same to Ball? Bledsoe doesn’t have the same chip on his shoulder that Pat Bev does, but then again does anyone in the NBA have a chip that big?
Bledsoe should be able to blow by Ball on the offensive end, and force the Lakers porous D to collapse in the lane. Let’s see if Bledsoe’s progression with in-game vision carries over from last January, where he was at his career-best in dishing assists (8+ per game).
Another big matchup is second-year forward Brandon Ingram vs. rookie Josh Jackson. Jackson says he doesn’t have anything to prove, but it would be nice to show he’s better than Ingram tonight.
And then there’s the hope that any of the Suns higher-picked forwards can look somewhat comparable to low-first picks Larry Nance Jr. or Kyle Kuzma.
Come on, Suns. Help a brother out.
To be fair, we’ve only seen the Suns play sure-fire playoff teams so far (Blazers three times, Utah Jazz twice), except for the easy win against the Brisbane Bullets.
So we don't really know how the Suns will compete against the team like the Lakers who are also trying to find an identity.
Mayyyybe the Lakers are closer to the Bullets than the Blazers?
No word yet on Alex Len’s ankle.
The usual Suns players are out: Jared Dudley (1-2 weeks from returning to action), Davon Reed, Alan Williams, Brandon Knight
The Lakers are missing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (suspension, DUI conviction).
Watch online for any more injury news as the day unfolds. Teams usually don’t talk injuries until the last second.
Eric Bledsoe vs. Lonzo Ball
Devin Booker vs. Brandon Ingram (starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is suspended for this game)
Josh Jackson vs. Luol Deng (but mostly Brandon Ingram I’d guess)
T.J. Warren vs. Larry Nance Jr.
Tyson Chandler vs. Brook Lopez
I seriously have zero clue.
I have hopes. I have dreams. I have expectations. But zero, nada, zilch idea clue kind of Suns team we will actually see tonight.