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Balanced Suns Cruise Past Kings
By: Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
If Suns fans were looking for the closest thing to a preview of how Suns head coach Alvin Gentry was planning on managing the rotation this season, the Suns victory over the Kings on Monday was the best illustration of that.
Despite falling behind by 12 in the first period, the Suns rebounded to hold on to a 103-88 home victory over their fellow Pacific-division member. The Suns used a familiar technique – of outscoring opponents on the fast break by nine in the first half – to pull ahead by six headed into intermission.
A balanced scoring attack, led by Jared Dudley (25 points), Michael Beasley (15) and Markieff Morris (14) carried the team the rest of the way in the second half. For the night, Phoenix held Sacramento to 37-percent shooting.
“Yeah, I thought defensively we were a lot more active, especially with the second unit coming in," Dudley. "We killed them in rebounds and they still shot under 40 percent. Offensively, we clicked on all cylinders.”
Gentry gave extensive minutes to the first unit, with the second team getting its fair share. Other than point guard Goran Dragic, no player totaled 30 or more minutes. Meanwhile, four reserves played more 18 minutes, with Shannon Brown (22 minutes) scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
The Suns struggled with their turnovers, coughing it 20 times (13 in the first half) over the course of the night.
“We got off to bad start mainly because we were turning the ball over,” Gentry said. “We have to do a better job of managing the basketball.
“We talk about it every day. The one thing we don’t have a defense for is turning the ball over a lot.”
They’ll have that opportunity to redeem themselves in that department tomorrow night at Golden State.
Gentry has settled on a starting lineup of Beasley, Scola, Gortat, Dudley and Dragic. The Suns head coach gave that combination of players an extended look Monday.
“Unless something extraordinary happens in the next three games, this is the lineup we’ll start the season with,” Gentry said. “And it would have to be something really outside the box.”
When facing a tough perimeter scorer this season, expect No. 17 to get the call. The Suns coaching staff believe that P.J. Tucker is the best perimeter defender on the roster and someone they’ll look to when the need to harass a hot-handed opponent arises.
“I think he’s going to be a guy that most people feel a connection to because of the work ethic and toughness that he plays with,” Gentry said.
All throughout the preseason Gentry has emphasized how he wants his team to improve in rebounding. In fact, it’s the No. 1 priority he wants addressed before the season tips off on October 31.
In the last preseason game against the Thunder, Oklahoma City had eight rebounds before the first timeout. However on Monday, the Suns outrebounded the Kings by 12.
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