I wouldn't call it a triumphant follow-up to a loss because after all, pre-season is still pre-season, but overall the Suns did show promise in beginning to put the pieces together. After a dismal performance against the Kings in Sacramento the "home opener" provided a spark for the new face of the franchise.
Goran Dragic did not play like Steve Nash tonight, but that is the point. He played his style leading what is looking like his team to the victory.
It was the subtle presentational elements before, during, and after the game that made the statement that this is now Dragic's Team. From his locker graduation moving from a rookie locker in the middle to now dressing in the same spot that his predecessor did to being the first face you see on the Jumbo Tron to introduce the team. Each individually may not be a major impactful thing, but collectively they are the recipe for a new visual face of the franchise.
Against Portland Dragic really went at Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard who has been very impressive and made him look like a rookie. His aggressive style despite physical limitations due to his ankle injury as well as general conditioning made the 8 points 9 assists and 5 rebounds all the more impressive.
When Dragic went aggressively at the basket he was constantly looking for his teammates, "I try to involve my teammates, especially in the first 15 minutes, and then if everyone is dangerous to get a basket it's much easier for me."
That was evident as Dragic created unique offense for his teammates with 5 assists in his first 15 minutes of action. Very Nash-like, but done in a very Dragic-like manner.
"I think Goran is in a really good place," Coach Gentry after the game. "His idea is not to replace Steve, but to try to be the best player we want him to be. We just want him to be the best Goran he can be."