Suns Stumble In First Preseason Game, Fall To Kings, 109-95

Phoenix started strong, with a 58-51 lead at the half and both Jason Richardson and Robin Lopez in double figures. But, the magic didn't last and the team's reserves were soundly beaten by the King's (mostly) starters.

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Flat Suns Lose To Sacramento 109-95

Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) - Tyreke Evans scored 26 points and the Sacramento Kings won their preseason opener, 109-95, over Phoenix.

Evans, who was chosen as the league's top rookie last season, shot 9-of-17 from the field and had five assists. Although he's allowed to play in the preseason, Evans will miss the season-opener October 27 at Minnesota due to a one-game suspension imposed by the NBA after he pled no contest to reckless driving over the summer.

DeMarcus Cousins, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, started at center and had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the win. Jason Thompson contributed 17 points and 10 boards off the bench.

Jason Richardson totaled 17 points for the new-look Suns, who began the campaign without Amare Stoudemire. The five-time All-Star, who spent his entire eight-year tenure in the league with the Suns, went to the New York Knicks in the offseason in a sign-and-trade package.

Robin Lopez scored 15 points for Phoenix, which was outscored by 14 points in the last quarter.

A tip-in by Hakim Warrick, who went to Phoenix in an offseason trade, gave the visitors an 86-84 lead with nine minutes left. The Kings responded with a 19-4 burst, capped by Beno Udrih's steal and layup with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

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Phoenix Suns Open Preseason At Sacramento Kings, 7:00 P.M. AZT

Boy, this would be a fun game to watch. A ton of young and new Suns players facing DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and all their buddies, led by Suns legend Paul Westphal.

Unfortunately, the game won't be broadcast on TV, so we will have to wait and see what the box score tells us. 

Being the first preseason game, you normally wouldn't expect much and by all means the score should be ignored. But this preseason has additional importance for the Suns, who have a lot of work to do before getting ready for the 2010-11 NBA season schedule to kickoff on October 26 in Portland.

Here's a list of goals for the Suns in the preseason:

1) The starting lineup probably won't play a ton together, but they need to work hard on incorporating Hedo Turkoglu into a group that was very comfortable playing with Amare Stoudemire. It goes without saying that Hedo is a much different player than Amare and the starting five have a lot of work to do before they are working together. This could take several months to fully accomplish.

The tendency might be to limit Nash's and Hill's minutes or even sit them for preseason games, but that's not an option this year. The starters need court time together, so I would expect to see them all play around 25 minutes.

2) The Suns' second unit is extremely strong and Alvin Gentry will need to experiment with all kinds of combinations of lineups mixing and matching his top ten players. Is Warrick better on the floor with Lopez or Frye? Can Dudley, Childress and Turkoglu play together? These are the kinds of questions and there are at least 10 possible combinations that Gentry will want to see together.

3) Getting the young guys like Earl Clark and Dwayne Jones enough minutes to see how they've developed in the offseason and figure out what kind of role they are ready to play.

4) Evaluating the end of the bench guys who are competing for a few open spots. It will be very difficult for Matt Janning, Zabian Dowdell and Chucky Atkins to all get significant time and Garret Siler might not be ready for the NBA, but the only way to really find out is to play him.

Staying healthy is always a preseason goal for any team, as well.

For more Suns preseason discussion, visit Bright Side of the Sun.

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