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Suns Drop Typical Preseason Game With Some Good Things, Some Bad Things

That's how it goes in the preseason.

You get limited production from your key veteran guys like Nash and Hill and you don't worry about them. You are looking for the second and third unit to show something and you try and get some guys a few minutes playing together. 

It's simply not meaningful to look at a practice session (which is all these games are) and read too much into anything. The entire month of October is training camp and the exhibition games are, at best, dress rehearsals but in reality much more like a fancy scrimmage.

 "For the most part I think it was a typical preseason game. I think we're trying defensively. They (Utah Jazz) shot 43 percent which is good," Coach Gentry said after the game.

This final score in this game obviously came down to the Suns turnovers (20) and the free throw shooting (59 percent). As far as the box score is concerned, Phoenix did well in all the other categories. 

"We talk after the game with coach that we had 20 turnover and missed like 14 free throws. If we want to win these kinds of games we have to eliminate our turnovers and hit some free throws," Suns backup point guard Goran Dragic said.

Dragic played better tonight then in his previous preseason games and finished with 15 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in just 21 minutes of play. His three point shooting helped spark a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that gave the Suns a brief (and rare) lead.

"It was a little better than the two games before -- getting my legs back. I was pressuring the ball full court and making some shots and today I was feeling really great," Dragic said.

Overall, the free throws and missed shots can be partially attributed to the every day practice schedule that the Suns are on currently. They are pushing hard right now to build up their endurance and strength but are working at a pace that's much more intense physically than it will be during the regular season.

"It's preseason and some players have -- how you say -- tough legs and still need some free days to recover. Hopefully, when season is going to start we're going to make everything," Goran explained.

Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan wasn't happy despite the win. Of course, that's not really a surprise given his reputation.

"I thought I saw the worst shots I've ever seen us take," Sloan said. "We're trying to win a ball game and got selfish. We had like four possessions in a row when we had three guys guarding us and we had one guy take the ball to the basket."

The Suns will have a full practice session tomorrow morning and then fly to Utah for another preseason game on Thursday. They will then travel to Toronto for a re-match with the Raptors on Sunday.

Other Notes:

  • Hedo Turkoglu left the game after playing just nine minutes. He was listed as having a "back contusion". He said after the game he hurt initially in practice yesterday and then got banged on a screen tonight and it stiffened up. He could have returned to the game but the Suns held him out for precautionary reasons.
  • Coach Gentry made a point of praising Jason Richardson (13 points, 21 minutes) for his level of play and overall energy and fitness.
  • Josh Childress continues to be a bright spot for the Suns. He insists he's still a long way from learning how to play in the Suns system but his constant energy and smart play is impressive to watch. Josh finished with 8 rebounds, 10 point in 27 minutes. He brings a lot to this team.
  • Warrick filled in for Hedo at the four and showed that he can run and finished but the 3 rebounds and interior defense were underwhelming.
  • Earl Clark got a solid 20 minutes. He did some nice things (4 blocks) but also at times continued to force the issue offensively and was out of position defensively.  Coach Gentry is used to seeing some very smart guys on the floor like Grant Hill and Jared Dudley. It's a high bar for Clark to reach but overall he had a solid outing.
  • Channing Frye was miserable shooting the ball (1-for-10) but played with energy and defensive effort. If he hits half the open shots that were created for him, the Suns probably win this game.
  • Robin Lopez looked solid early. He had 1 block credited and at least two more solid defensive plays in the paint. He continues to roll well on the pick and roll and makes good decisions with the ball when teams bring help. His touch wasn't super tonight (probably the result of tired legs) but he was still 4-for-7 from the field.
  • Dwayne Jones only played about 5 minutes along with the rest of the 3rd unit at the end of the game. He had four rebounds however but was upset with himself for missing a few opportunities to finish in the paint. He said a couple of times he was caught between trying to do two things like tip the ball versus bring it down. Over thinking lead to missing some scoring opportunities.
  • Both Zabian Dowdell and Matt Janning played well. Janning was hitting shots (2-of-3 in 5 minutes) and Dowdell looks more poised and polished on the floor. It's going to be a tough decision between the two.

For more post game reaction, visit Bright Side of the Sun.