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Phoenix Suns start small, Len-Ulis duo plays well in preseason loss to Jazz

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson, right, defends against Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, left, during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Phoenix Suns want to play faster this year, and after a quick scan of the roster, it appeared going small was the way to do so.

The Suns are experimenting with the idea in the preseason. In the first game, they did it a fair bit against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Friday night against the Utah Jazz, the team started the game small. Josh Jackson replaced Tyson Chandler in the starting lineup and the Suns went with the lineup they ran with when Chander was subbed out in Portland.

Chandler did not play in the game.

The obvious weakness of the lineup is rebounding. Chriss is already a poor rebounder for a power forward, and while T.J. Warren and Jackson are good rebounders, they cannot make up for the rebounding numbers Chriss put up in his rookie year at center.

That was a problem for the Suns, as they were outrebounded 53-39 and dropped their second preseason game 112-101.

Chriss had 10 points and seven rebounds, Jackson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds while Warren had eight points and four rebounds.

Speaking of Warren, he left the game after a fall that resulted in him getting five stitches. He did not return to the game.

A budding connection off the bench in the preseason is backup point guard Tyler Ulis and center Alex Len.

Len’s role on the team is a bit of a mystery with the team wanting to get Chriss and Dragan Bender involved at center. If he plays like he has with Ulis, however, it will be hard to bench him.

He finished with a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds, while Ulis had 14 points and six assists.

With Ulis no longer having his running mate off the bench in Williams for most of the season, he needed a new big man to click with, and early indications are that it is Len.

The Suns get the first of their three preseason games next week on Monday against the Jazz in Phoenix, the team’s first home game of the preseason.

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