Perhaps the Phoenix Suns are saving the defensive improvement for the regular season.
The Portland Trail Blazers led 63-46 at halftime on the strength of Damian Lillard’s 14 points, 48.1-percent shooting from the field as a team, and 13 turnovers by Phoenix, but the Suns proved no lead is safe in a preseason game.
Trailing 85-73 entering the 4th quarter, a lineup of Mike James, Troy Daniels, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, and Alex Len went on a 27-9 run to take a 100-94 lead down the stretch. Portland would trim the advantage to 113-112 after Len fouled Isaiah Briscoe on a late 3-point attempt, but James made 1 of 2 free throws on the other end to push the advantage back to two. Briscoe came up shot on his game-winner attempt at the buzzer.
The small forward battle is shaping up to be a good one, with Warren leading all Suns in the 1st half with 13 points and Josh Jackson adding 12 of his own (although adding six turnovers for the game as well).
It is preseason for the stats keepers as well, so the full box score isn’t available as of typing this, but suffice it to say the 4th quarter crew looked to have some solid chemistry together. James orchestrated the offense well, Daniels was hitting from deep, and Len did a solid job of rebounding, playing big, and not trying to do too much. And of course, Warren was solid all game.
Now all the Suns have to do is figure out how to do that against a team’s starters, and they’re golden.