EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns wrap up preseason with win vs. Lakers

Oct 19, 2023, 9:43 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2023, 6:46 am

Kevin Durant...

Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Footprint Center on October 16, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 117-106. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The preseason is done for the Phoenix Suns and now the hype for the start of the season on Tuesday can really start multiplying following a 123-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

Phoenix initially was going to play everyone before a call was made the afternoon of the game to rest Devin Booker and sit out Bradley Beal, again for back tightness. That was as much of a shame as it could be in the preseason given the Lakers got their healthy key players like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves into minute totals around the mid-20s. Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon got the starting nods in the backcourt.

Kevin Durant was still out there and made the final seven shots he took in the first half before sitting out the rest of the way. He scored 21 points in 17 minutes.

Davis, one of the best defensive big men to ever do it, was absolutely swallowing up Jusuf Nurkic’s attempts around the rim. Four of his six blocks came on Nurkic lay-ins at the basket, where the Bosnian’s lack of vertical explosion can be a shortcoming of his. He was 1-for-11 from the floor with eight rebounds.. It was also a tough defensive showing for him as well.

If you’re a casual NBA fan outside of Suns basketball, you wouldn’t assume Nassir Little stood much of a chance at a rotation role after the team’s first four preseason games. And you would have been surprised to hear Little was the part of the Deandre Ayton trade a few experts liked the most for Phoenix amongst the four players coming back in return, given how great Grayson Allen has looked.

But Little has a real shot to be an impact player this year after showing plenty of flashes in Portland over the first four years of his career. And on Thursday, he played much more like himself with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting with four rebounds.

Little is an athletic and strong wing, perfectly built for the switchable versions of defense most teams in the NBA play. He can defend a few positions, and his offensive game made some strides last year. It was a good step forward for him as he battles among the group of a half-dozen guys for the last two spots in the rotation.

Drew Eubanks continues to look very solid as the backup 5 (and I’ll continue to whisper to whoever will listen that he’s got a real chance to be closing games by the playoffs). Thursday was his most productive night of the preseason, a stat-stuffing effort of seven points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block in 16 minutes.

Eubanks is a highlight waiting to happen with either his dunks or blocks. He gave us the best one of the Suns preseason with this poster on Rui Hachimura, who wisely abandoned ship eventually but not soon enough to avoid Eubanks’ wrath.

Chimezie Metu hit a trio of 3s, giving him an 8-for-17 mark in the preseason. The big man wasn’t much of a shooter in the NBA prior to this year but has been working on adding it to his game and perhaps it is ready for the big time.

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