Suns Fall To Nuggets In Final Preseason Game, 110-85

The Phoenix Suns closed their preseason with a second loss to the Denver Nuggets.

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Phoenix Suns End Preseason With 2nd Loss To Nuggets, 110-85

The Phoenix Suns ended their two-game preseason with two losses to the Denver Nuggets. The Suns looked decent in the first half, but things fell apart in the second with Steve Nash only playing 10 minutes (26 total for the game). 

Denver took a 77-71 lead into the fourth quarter before the Suns offense, with mostly reserve players, were unable to score for 3:20 until guard Shannon Brown hit a three-point shot. 

Considering the rotations played, the Suns weren't horrible but they clearly are going to struggle again this season when Nash isn't on the floor. The Denver Nuggets bench had too much talent for the Suns to handle and they didn't play several of their top guys including Nene, Al Harrington and Ty Lawson. 

"We've got a lot of work to do -- at the end of the day we have a lot of work that we've got to getdone and we have a very short time to do it in before we start playing games that count," coach Alvin Gentry.

Positives from the game were the strong play of rookie Markieff Morris and the continued scoring from Hakim Warrick. Jared Dudley was his usual solid self and Robin Lopez played a good game starting in place of the injured Marcin Gortat.

"Coach has confidence in me to just go out there and play basketball and have fun," Morris said.

The Suns were led by 17 points from Jared Dudley. Hakim Warrick added 15 and Shannon Brown, 14. The Suns shot just 38 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times and were out-rebounded 54-40 with most of the damage coming in the second half. 

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Phoenix Suns Vs. Denver Nuggets Half Time Report: Warrick Scoring Inside And Out

The Phoenix Suns played a much better half of basketball on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets than they did on Tuesday. After trailing 26-16 after the first quarter the Suns outscored the Nuggets 34-26 in the second quarter to finish the first half down 52-50.

You don't want to read too much into it, preseason rotations and all, but the Suns cleaned up a lot of their issues from Tuesday night and finished the half minus-one in both total rebounds (24-23) and turnovers (9-8). Phoenix held Denver to 41 percent shooting from the field but still gave up 24 points in the paint. 

Hakim Warrick continues to make a case for more playing time. His outside shot is still falling and his work in the post earned him numerous trips to the line. He led the Suns at the half with 13 points on 4-7 shooting and 5-8 from the line.

Robin Lopez started off the game very active with a block of Timofey Mozgov on the first possession and then an offensive rebound on the other end. His activity on the glass drew two fouls and he recorded 3 points, 2 rebounds and a block in just 3:34 of action before being replaced by Markieff Morris. Lopez didn't put up big numbers but was a defensive presence with solid rotations and good post defense.

The rookie Markieff Morris was very impressive on both ends of the floor although his on-ball defense is definitely a work in progress. He showed no hesitation looking for his offense and led the team in first quarter shot attempts with six attempted and three made. He drew fouls and recorded 4 rebounds and 3 blocks in his 11 minutes.

Ronnie Price was the first guard in off the bench for Steve Nash and while he didn't make mistakes, the Nuggets lead ballooned from 3 to 10 in just two minutes with Nash on the bench. Things picked up in the second quarter and the deficit was back down to four when Nash checked in with six minutes left in the half.

With Nash on the bench, the Suns either ran the ball through the post with Warrick getting several touches and handling them well. If Phoenix did run pick and roll, Shannon Brown was the ball handler instead of Price.

In the second quarter with the starters back in, Phoenix mixed up the point of attack nicely and definitely had a nice flow going with Jared Dudley and Grant Hill on the floor together with Nash, Warrick and Lopez. 

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Phoenix Suns Vs. Denver Nuggets: Preview, Schedule And Notes From Coach Gentry

The Phoenix Suns will play their second and final preseason game of the 2011-12 NBA season on Thursday night at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ. The game tips at 7:00 p.m. and will not be broadcast on TV although Al McCoy, as he's done since 1972, will have the radio call on 620am. The Suns will face the Denver Nuggets who defeated the Suns 127-110 on Tuesday to open the preseason.

Phoenix Suns injury and line up report:

The Phoenix Suns will likely start small forward Grant Hill who missed the preseason opener due to a sore knee. The starters and regular rotation players could play a little longer than in the first game in Denver.  

Robin Lopez will start Thursday night in place of center Marcin Gortat who suffered a broken bone in his right thumb on Tuesday. Gortat insists that he will be ready to play in the Suns opener on December 26 against the New Orleans Hornets but his coach said that decision depend on what the doctors say.

The rest of the starting line up should be the same with Steve Nash, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley taking the floor. 

Coaches Notes from Alvin Gentry:

Gentry was displeased with the 60 points in the paint his team allowed in the first game against Denver and put a lot of emphasis on the 16 turnovers and 17 offensive rebounds allowed. Another point of focus was making sure the weak side player on offense knows to get back as soon as shot goes up. The Suns transition defense was fooled Tuesday night by the Denver player who would sprint into the front court as soon as they contested a Suns perimeter shot.

"We spent a lot more time, I know it's hard to believe, but we spent a lot more time defensively trying to get things in order and we've got to try and find a way to get better at that," Gentry said Thursday morning.

Bright Side of the Sun blog will have a live game thread for the game.

For all the latest AZ sports news, follow us on Twitter @SBNArizona and "Like" us on Facebook. 


Phoenix Suns Injury Update: Marcin Gortat Suffers Broken Thumb In Preseason Game

The Phoenix Suns lost their first preseason game to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. They are hoping they didn't lose more than that one game that doesn't even go on their permanent record. Starting center Marcin Gortat suffered broken thumb in the game and will be evaluated further on Wednesday in Phoenix.

According to this report by the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro, Gortat was diagnosed after the game with a hairline fracture on his right thumb. He's confident the injury won't cause him to lose any playing time.

Phoenix Suns make sloppy preseason debut
"Hell, no," Gortat told Coro after the game. "I've still got my left (thumb). I'm not going to give up my spot."

Gortat played 25 minutes and scored 14 points and had eight rebounds. He went 8-10 at the free throw line which was an encouraging sign for the Suns who want to draw more fouls this season. The injury reportedly came when Denver Nuggets guard Rudy Fernandez reached in to slap at the ball.

For all the latest AZ sports news, follow us on Twitter @SBNArizona and "Like" us on Facebook. 

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