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Suns Strokes: Suns open new era with a bang

A new coach plus new players — 10 of them, to be exact — equals a new result.

Goran Dragic scored 26 points while backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe added 22 to help lead the Suns to a 104-91 season opening victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in front of 17,208 at US Airways Center.

It marked the first time the Suns won their home opener and season opener since 2009.

Phoenix jumped in front 30-20 after the first quarter with center Miles Plumlee contributing 10 points, six rebounds and two block shots in the first twelve minutes. He finished with his first career double-double, 18 points and 15 rebounds, becoming the first Suns player to record a double-double in his first career start in a season opener since Shawn Marion had 14 points and 14 rebounds at Denver on Nov. 2, 1999.

A 14-point fourth quarter lead was cut to five, but the Suns defense forced eight straight misses and kept Portland scoreless the final 3:15.

The Good

By halftime, Plumlee had 16 points to already surpass his previous career total. As a rookie in Indiana last season, he played in 14 games and totaled 13 points and 22 rebounds in 55 minutes.

Bledsoe and Dragic combined to score 46 points on 19-of-33 shooting with 15 assists, 13 rebounds, two steals and seven turnovers.

PJ Tucker scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half, including two three-pointers.

Channing Frye played his first regular season game in 557 days with seven points and three rebounds in 22 minutes

The Bad

After a turnover-free opening quarter, the Suns turned it over five times, including on four of six possessions at one point in the second quarter. Portland, which has lost a franchise-record 14 straight games dating back to last season, capitalized, outscoring the Suns 30-20, pulling to within four at the break. Damian Lillard closed the quarter hitting three straight threes. He scored 16 of his game-high 32 points in the quarter.

Stat of the Game

The Suns had four players score at least 18 points. The last time the Suns had at least four players each score 18 or more points in a season opener was on Nov. 3, 1989 vs. Golden State when Armen Gilliam, Eddie Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Tom Chambers each reached the 18-point mark.

He Said It

“Me sitting on the bench all last year with Indy (Indiana), I wasn’t just sitting there. I got to watch Roy Hibbert, and he’s easily the best in the league in my opinion at it,” Plumlee said of being able to block shots. “Just getting to go out there, get the minutes; seeing how it’s done. It’s kind of coming together.”


Hornacek won his regular season Suns coaching debut, becoming the 10th of 16 Suns coach to do so.

The Suns have the seventh-youngest opening night roster in the NBA with an average age of 25 years, nine months and 13 days

The Suns played game one without starting power forward Markieff Morris, who served a one-game suspension for elbowing Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka in the face during the preseason

Up Next

The Suns (1-0) play their second straight home game, hosting the Utah Jazz (0-1) on Friday, November 1. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 620.