Well after much anticipation, the outdoor game at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden between us and the Denver Nuggets is finally in the books. Not the results we were looking for (in case you didn’t catch it on TNT, we lost), but definitely an experience I’ll remember.
It was unique, different and heading in we had no idea what to expect. Got a little colder than we thought it would get out here. When we took the court this evening for shootaround, me and the guys were kind of hoping that as fans made their way into the building things would warm up a bit. That didn’t end up being the case, unfortunately. It was chilly out there at certain points and the wind definitely played a factor. Overall it was an exciting experience and definitely different than anything I’d ever been involved in.
The preseason as a whole has been a learning experience, not just for me but for the entire team. We think we’re doing a good job so far and we can definitely see ourselves getting better and better defensively. We’re growing more confident in our ability to play defense as a unit and overall are becoming a stronger team with each game. Tonight there were obviously a number of different elements playing factors, but I think in Utah we really had the opportunity to see our hard work pay off.
Coach Terry Porter wanted to play myself and some of the younger guys in that game specifically to help give us a little additional experience playing on the road. With it being the second preseason game in as many nights for our team it made sense, and our starters had played a nice amount of minutes the night prior against the Hawks. So me and the guys just went out there in Utah’s EnergySolutions Arena, played hard and were able to grab our first win of the preseason.
Personally, I love the challenge of performing well on the road. It’s something I’ve really embraced since back in college at Wisconsin and hasn’t lessened in the slightest since becoming a pro. I think it’s on the road that teams really pull together because you don’t have the comfort and support of your fans and it’s just you and your teammates out there. Back-to-backs and road trips are particularly tough but I think it’s important the rookies and I experience them as much as possible in the preseason; especially when you consider we’ll open up the season on a back-to-back against two very good teams in the Spurs and the Hornets.
As far as which environments out there are the craziest to play in, I don’t think it comes as any surprise I’m going to name cities like New York and Philadelphia. Those are some real hostile arenas to play in out there on the East Coast, but we like to think opponents kind of feel similar to coming into our house at the US Airways Center. Just keep the noise up this season, Suns fans, and I think it will be a pretty solid season. Thanks as always for reading and I’ll check back with you soon.