The Suns expect to have a better defense this season with a re-tooled roster that will allow them to be more aggressive.
The problem with that has been that they barely have played those lineups in the preseason and the aggression has not always been controlled.
After a 106-81 loss Friday at Denver, the Suns do not care about a 2-2 record as much as things like their propensity for fouling so far. The Suns trailed 63-36 at halftime Friday after 16 first-half fouls and have averaged the third-most fouls per game in the NBA preseason.
“We fouled too much,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said with an emphasized displeasure on the “silly” fouls. “That’s something that has got to stop. We’ve given up a lot of free throws. I don’t think our defense was all that great. We let a lot of pocket passes go through. On the weak side, we weren’t in the proper position a lot of times. That’s something we’re working on.”
The Suns’ defense was behind a second-half rally that took a 29-point deficit down to nine. That followed the ejection of Tyson Chandler, who said Kenneth Faried shoved him in the back to prevent him from jumping for an alley-oop and did not get a foul called.
In his 15th preseason, Chandler is not alarmed by an exhibition rout but will not ignore the issues either.
“You’ve got to fix that stuff but you’d rather it happen now so you know the things you have to work on, rather than go up there in the regular season,” Chandler said. “This is the perfect time for you have to have this kind of disastrous night so you can build on them.
“It happens because you’re just throwing out things, coaches are working on different lineups, you’re putting players in uncomfortable situations just so you can see how they react.”
The Suns played the game with one point guard, Brandon Knight, because Eric Bledsoe and Ronnie Price were out sick. Midway through the third quarter, Knight joined Chandler in the locker room after fouling out to leave off-guards Sonny Weems (eight assists, no turnovers), Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin handling the point.
“It’s preseason and we’re playing with one point guard so it’s going to look like that,” Suns power forward Markieff Morris said.
“I’m just looking forward to starting the season and getting off to a great start as a team.”