Suns look to continue brisk preseason pace vs. Clippers

Beyond the return of Jared Dudley, the Suns and their fans should be quite interested in Tuesday night’s preseason date with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek, whose team won on the road in Portland and San Antonio in its first two practice games co-staring NBA competition, will have another opportunity to tinker with lineups.

Despite looking at various combinations, the Suns have managed to come out ahead away from U.S. Airways Center.

“Typically, a team that’s only won 25 games doesn’t win many on the road,” Hornacek said recently, “What’s really important is they tried to be play the same way on the road as they did at home … and that’s great to see.”

The evolution of the Suns’ attempted quick-strike offense will be tested by a Clippers team that shut down the Trail Blazers (37 percent shooting) and Utah Jazz (36.1) in its first two outings. With new coach Doc Rivers implementing the same style of pack-line-oriented defense the Suns are developing under ex-Rivers assistant Mike Longabardi, gettin’ buckets might not be easy.

In addition to welcoming home Dudley, Suns fans will have an opportunity to show appreciation for Channing Frye in his first home appearance since missing an entire season. Frye, who had a big night in Portland, made only 1 of 6 shots Sunday in San Antonio.

Through three exhibitions (including the opening rout of Maccabi Haifa), it’s obvious that Hornacek is looking at multiple combinations in his quest to find a solid starting lineup and capable bench rotation.

After opening with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe working together against Haifa, those two split the starting point-guard assignments in Portland and San Antonio and have been working on separate units.

Dragic had a big game in Portland but played only 7:32 against the Spurs.

Bledsoe, who should have an opportunity to go against former Clippers teammate and mentor Chris Paul on Tuesday, has made only 3 of 11 shots in each of his games vs. NBA teams. He has 11 assists in those games (nine at Portland) with only one turnover.

Rookie center Alex Len had extended minutes (25) in San Antonio and looked good after struggling in Portland. The 7-foot-1 Len had six points, nine rebounds and two blocks vs. the Spurs. Although he’s attempting to regain his lift and acceleration after surgery on both ankles, the fifth overall pick in June’s NBA Draft has demonstrated a smooth shooting stroke from within 15 feet.

Incumbent center Marcin Gortat has had the rare distinction of starting all three Suns games and has looked solid to begin what’s expectated to be a season-long showcase for potential suitors.

Small forward Gerald Green had 19 points against San Antonio and — along with fellow ex-Indiana Pacer Miles Plumlee — provides Hornacek with another rotation candidate.

Free-agent guard Dionte Christmas didn’t play in Portland but gave the Suns 14 points (making 3 of 4 from 3-point range) during the victory over the Spurs.

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