PHOENIX – Too bad the Suns can’t play Maccabi Haifa every week.
In their first night together, the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns had more points, more fastbreak points and shot a better percentage than in any game they played last season.
“I thought our guys set the tone in the beginning,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said after his team, shooting 62.5 percent, placed six players in double figures in a 130-89 preseason win in front of 7,548 at US Airways Center.
Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, playing their first real extended minutes together, accounted for 17 points as the Suns jumped in front, 21-9 in the opening seven minutes.
“I thought it was a great combo,” Bledsoe said.
He finished with a game-high 22 points, none more impressive than the layup off a half-court lob from Dragic midway through the first quarter.
“Because I know he can jump,” Dragic answered when asked why he made the pass. “That was the only pass that was possible, so I threw it up. I asked him after that why he didn’t dunk. He said, ‘I’m so tired.’ But we scored.”
Added Bledsoe about the play, “Goran is a terrific passer. He sees the floor just as well as anybody.”
Bledsoe and Dragic combined to score 38 points on 16-of-22 shooting with nine assists, five rebounds, five steals (by Bledsoe) and six turnovers.
“Good basketball players know how to play with other guys in terms of what works best,” Hornacek said. “They seem to have a pretty good little relationship there where they’re kind of on the same page already, which is nice.”
The two point guards, as designed, rotated leading the offense.
“We were just talking in the locker room before the game,” Dragic said. “(Marin Gortat) was asking, ‘OK, if two point guards want the ball, who should I pass it to?’ The closest one. That’s the deal, and the other one has to run.”
The Suns pushed the pace, regardless of the five-player combination on the floor, with 49 fastbreak points.
“That’s the emphasis,” Hornacek said. “We talk about it all the time. The nearest guy to the basket, go ahead and try to take it out. We’re hoping that’s an advantage we have, is when you have two guys that can really push the ball.”
Rookie Archie Goodwin led the reserves with 13 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter. Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Slava Kravtsov each scored 10. Alex Len, the fifth overall pick, grabbed a team-high six rebounds to go along with seven points. PJ Tucker, who got the start at small forward, had five steals, tying team-high honors with Bledsoe.
The Suns assisted on 30 of 55 made field goals with five players with three or more assists.
“We got more options in the offense now,” Dragic said. “We can put it in the low post with (Gortat). We can play pick-and-roll and we can run. We want to play fast pace, try to be the old Suns and try to score as many points as we can.”