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Warriors Spoil Suns Opener
By: Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
13 usually isn’t a lucky number. It especially isn’t on Halloween.
On the 13th time the Suns ever played on Halloween, the Suns opened their 45th season with an 87-85 home loss to the Warriors. After nine meetings against Golden State all-time on opening night, it was their first season-opening home defeat to the Warriors in franchise history.
Before the contest, the new-look Suns were introduced to the Phoenix faithful, boasting a roster with nine new faces. Three of the new faces were starters: point guard Goran Dragic, power forward Luis Scola and small forward Michael Beasley.
The nine new additions are among the highest number in the league.
"We're all new," Suns swingman P.J. Tucker said. "We're still really getting to know each other and we're still learning how to play with each other and as long as we keep playing hard, I think we'll start winning games."
Not surprisingly, the club started slow, trailing by as many as 17 in the second quarter. However, the Suns roared back to cut the lead to six at the half and lead by two heading into the fourth period.
The Suns were powered by a familiar, yet new face, in Dragic. The lefty playmaker led all Suns in scoring with 17 points to go along with his eight assists and six rebounds. He also shot eight-of-10 from the line.
However, the third-period rally was ultimately sparked by the Suns’ defense, which held Golden State to 30-percent shooting. On the night, the Suns’ defense was incredibly feisty, limiting the Warriors to 38-percent shooting.
"In the second quarter and third quarter we really played good defense and we stopped a lot of their offense," Dragic said. "We ran and got some easy shots and some fast-break shots, which was much easier for us."
Dragic’s former teammate in Houston last season, Luis Scola, also stepped up in his first night as a Sun. He totaled his third-straight opening night double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
His frontcourt mate Marcin Gortat pitched in with 10 points and nine boards. The "Polish Hammer" also tied a career high with five blocks.
The Suns’ longest tenured player, shooting guard Jared Dudley, was one of two remaining Suns players in double figures with 11 points. But the most pleasant surprise of the night was reserve swingman P.J. Tucker, who injected his club with much-needed intensity.
Besides shooting 5-of-9 from the floor to collect 10 points, Tucker deflected numerous Warrior passes and got into the opponents’ shorts defensively. His spirited effort warranted 23 minutes of action, including several clutch minutes down the stretch.
"P.J. is a great player," Dragic said. "He played amazing defense and he's just aggressive all over the court. And if we want to win these type of games, everybody has to play like that."
Phoenix will look to rebound against Detroit at home on Friday.
First Basket of the Year
If one believes that the first basket of the season will reflect how the season will turn out, then the Suns will be in good hands. Suns shooting guard Jared Dudley put up the first points of the 2012-13 season by converting on a layup after he was fouled with just a minute gone by in the game.
He later sank the free throw to get both the hoop and the harm.
Opponents' Take of the Suns' Playmaker
“Dragic is tough matchup,” Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said. “He can push the ball, make plays and he can score.”
Before the game, Gentry told reporters how Suns forward Michael Beasley has never been asked by any other team to be “the man.” Although the Suns aren’t calling him “the man,” Gentry said he is being asked to be a “go-to” guy this season.
"I’m sure he’ll be playing a lot more relaxed tonight," Gentry jokingly said before his Suns faced Stephen Curry - who signed a $44 million contract extension earlier Wednesday.
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