The rebuilding Phoenix Suns faced their toughest test of the preseason on Friday night when they took on the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder in Tulsa, Okla. The two teams had very different purposes for the game, reflecting their different priorities. While Oklahoma City wanted to put on a show for their fans in Tulsa, the Suns were looking to give the reserves some more action and learn about their depth and talent.
The Thunder ended up beating the Suns, 107-97, with Alvin Gentry limiting the minutes for his starters.
Over at SB Nation's Suns' blog, Bright Side of the Sun, Sean Sullivan broke down the performances across the retooled Phoenix lineup. Just as Gentry had hoped, this was a game primarily for evaluating the bench players and Sullivan had praise for the second- and third-stringer who hung in with the Thunder, saying:
With a grand total of only 20 points from the Suns starting five who had been playing so well together, one might expect that the Suns would get blown out against the talented three-headed monster of Durant-Westbrook-Ibaka who all played substantial minutes tonight. But instead, the Suns bench stepped up tonight and kept the game close throughout most of the first half and in the start of the third quarter, even when playing against the Thunder superstars.
To read Sullivans evaluations of how each player did against Oklahoma City, be sure to read the full post at Bright Side of the Sun.
The Suns' next preseason game is Monday, Oct. 22, against the Sacramento Kings back at home in Phoenix. The regular season begins for Phoenix on Wednesday, Oct. 31, against the Golden State Warriors. The opening game will tip off at 7 p.m. PT from the US Airways Center in Phoenix.