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Troy Daniels playing by the rules set by Phoenix Suns

LISTEN: Empire of the Suns

PHOENIX – Two rules, and two rules only, head coach Earl Watson had for guard Troy Daniels when the Phoenix Suns acquired the 26-year-old from Memphis just prior to training camp: 1) Be professional and 2) shoot 10-plus threes a game.

“You got to love that as a shooter,” Daniels said.

Only one other time in Daniels’ four NBA seasons did he hear a head coach say something similar. It was David Fizdale, his head coach last season with the Grizzlies.

“He actually stopped practice and explained to the other players, he doesn’t take a bad shot. Some of the vets were looking at me all crazy, but you got to love it as a player,” Daniels said, following the Suns’ 113-104 preseason loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

With Devin Booker sidelined with a right knee contusion/hyperextension, Daniels started and scored nine points on three 3-pointers in 22 minutes. He attempted seven threes, coming close to Watson’s 10-plus a game goal.

Daniels’ trio of made triples came in a two-minute stretch of the third quarter.

“That’s my game,” he said. “I hope guys can see that. You can throw it up ahead (and) we can get some easy transition threes.”

Daniels finished 3-of-11 from the field with one steal.

“The way he shoots the ball is big-time. We need that guy to stretch the court,” Watson said pregame. “His veteran leadership, he’s been on playoff teams. He’s the ultimate professional. He’s great in practice, on both ends of the court, and he’s a better defender than what people give him credit for. So, we’re excited to have Troy, we’re excited to see how he continues to grow with our roster.”

In four preseason games, Daniels is shooting 53.6 percent from deep, making 15-of-28 attempts.

For his career, Daniels is a 40.6 percent shooter from long range.

“The transition has been OK,” he said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a little rocky road from the start. These guys are new. I’m new to them, so I have to figure it out. These four preseason games, I think we’re figuring it out a little bit as we go. It might take maybe 10-to-20 games in the season, but just really looking forward to this team.”

NOT THE BEST SHOOTING NIGHT

Ball movement plus shot selection equals production. Unfortunately, it didn’t add up that way for the Suns, who shot only 37.8 percent from the field even though they got good looks at the basket against the Trail Blazers.

“We knew by the style of practice we had yesterday, we knew that we would not have legs. We also knew our practice from yesterday would put them in a tough situation physically today that would allow them to either push through the wall or falter or fall. They pushed through the wall,” Watson said. “The shots we usually make were there, we missed them.”

Rookie Josh Jackson led the Suns with 22 points. Four other players reached double-digits, including Marquese Chriss who added 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the preseason.

And after 32 turnovers against Utah on Monday, the Suns committed only 11.

“We took the last game we played personally because we all felt that we didn’t play up to our standards,” Jackson said. “We just wanted to come out today and compete. We knew we were playing against a veteran team, but we just wanted to come out and compete.

NOT BACKING DOWN

First, Tyson Chandler and now Alex Len. For the second consecutive game, the Suns had a player ejected.

With 9:33 remaining in the game, Len and Blazers forward Caleb Swanigan were fighting for a loose ball. They got tied up, Len shoved Swanigan, who responded with a push himself. The two were separated before things escalated any further.

Officials reviewed the play and called a loose ball foul on Swanigan, double technical fouls (which offset) and ejected both players.

“Going into the season, we just got to up the intensity,” Len said.

On Monday against Utah, Chandler was ejected after receiving a Flagrant 2 foul midway through the second quarter.

FREE THROWS

— Besides Booker, the Suns were without forward T.J. Warren, who missed his second straight game with a low back contusion.

Also out, as they have been all preseason were forward Jared Dudley (left foot surgery), guard Brandon Knight (left ACL tear), guard Davon Reed (left meniscus repair) and center Alan Williams (right meniscus tear).

— The Suns close out the preseason Friday against the Brisbane Bullets of Australia’s National Basketball League. And judging from Watson’s pregame comments, expect the contest to serve as a sort of dress rehearsal. Watson plans to unveil his starting lineup for the regular season.

‘It won’t change a lot during the season unless it’s (because of an) injury. We think it’s the best opportunity for us to succeed and compete and still be able to play at a fast pace. At the same time as we saw throughout the preseason, we need veteran leadership to start the game,” he said, likely alluding to Chandler. “Our starts have been challenging. We need guys out there who have been there and done that but at the same time, the young guys have opportunity to go around that throughout the game.”

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