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Bledsoe vs. Paul, Frye’s home return overshadow Phoenix Suns’ first preseason defeat

PHOENIX, Ariz. – So that’s what Clippers practices were like.

Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul provided fans a window into their on-court battles during their two seasons as teammates in L.A.

The teacher got the better of the student on this night.

Paul scored a game-high 24 points and had nine assists. Bledsoe finished with eight points and seven assists.

“He’s like a little brother to me, little big brother actually,” Paul said after the Clippers (3-1) handed the Suns (3-1) their first preseason loss, 102-96.

“He had the upper hand,” Bledsoe said. “He was kind of going at me a little bit. I was making good defensive plays. He was making tough shots.”

The Suns first-year point guard did have the advantage in one category: steals.

“(Paul) knows I like to get steals a lot. He tried to take care of the ball,” said Bledsoe, who twice stripped the ball from his former teammate in the game’s first seven minutes.

“Me and (Bledsoe) know each other so well, so when I’m playing against him I’m very careful of the things that I do,” Paul said. “When I went behind my back and he stole the ball away from me, I knew it. That was my own fault for doing that.”

Goran Dragic led the Suns with 20 points. He hit all four of his 3-pointers. Channing Frye made three 3s, scoring 11 points off the bench.

For Frye, it marked his first game action at US Airways Center since April 21, 2012.

“Felt awesome,” he said. “It was like I never left, but I left for a long time. But it was like I never left.”

Meanwhile, Bledsoe, for the first time here in the preseason, did not reach double figures in field goal attempts.

“He only took six shots. Probably could’ve been more aggressive,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “I don’t think he tried to do too much at all. I think he controlled the pace. He really sets the tone for us defensively in terms of getting after guys. When he does it, the other guys do it.”

Paul, now on the other side, is confident his understudy is ready to break out on his own.

“I think Bled is going to be the key to their future here,” he said.