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First-time dad Goran Dragic expected to play vs. Portland

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Suns departed the Valley for a one-game road trip to Portland without half their starting backcourt.

Guard Goran Dragic did not join the team on its charter flight. He stayed back to be with his wife, Maja, and brand new baby boy, Mateo, who was born Monday.

“He’s excited,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He wasn’t quite sure when I talked to him last night when they were able to get out of the hospital. So, if it’s this afternoon he’ll fly tonight. If it’s not until later today then maybe he comes in the morning.”

The Suns (5-2) play at Portland (5-2) Wednesday.

Dragic did not practice Monday and was not at the arena Tuesday.

It would be understandable, given the circumstances, if he did not play against the Trail Blazers.

“He wants to play,” Hornacek said.

“He’s a competitor, plus he goes, ‘I want to get out there and play for my new son.’ There’s that excitement. It’s a big thrill obviously to have your first child and to go out there and play and know that—the child might not know what’s going on quite yet for a couple of years, but there is that sense of pride that he wants to get back out on the court for him.”

Dragic has played in only four of the first seven games. He returned from a three-game absence because a sprained left ankle to score 12 points to along with three assists in 30 minutes in Sunday’s win against New Orleans.

Dragic is the team’s third-leading scorer, tied with Gerald Green at 13.3 points per game.

“He’s just obviously a proud dad right now,” Hornacek said of Dragic.