Thursday's Suns News: Earl Watson: 'For me, Dragan Bender is Lamar Odom'

Phoenix Suns score small wins in preseason loss to Utah: The Suns took their first preseason loss Tuesday night but they are taking the little victories. Going without starters Jared Dudley (right knee tendinitis) and Tyson Chandler (personal reasons), the Suns leaned almost completely on youth Wednesday night and saw necessary experience for their three rookies and progress in new roles for T.J. Warren and Brandon Knight. -- The Arizona Republic

Eric Bledsoe maturing on, off floor for Phoenix Suns: For whatever Eric Bledsoe might not always offer in words, his smile is saying a lot for him. It is continuous, noticeable and a shine from a better inner glow. Bledsoe’s early Suns image was formed by a 2014 summer holdout in which he was disconnected from the franchise. Bledsoe embraced the city and franchise much more last summer, but he took another Bledsoe-sized bounce forward this summer when he made Phoenix home, was an 8 a.m. regular in the workout room, got engaged, organized a San Diego player trip and was helped by a life coach. -- The Arizona Republic

In the future, rookie Dragan Bender can be Suns’ Lamar Odom: The comparison is a good one, the Phoenix Suns believe — minus the off-the-court misadventures of course. Asked before Wednesday’s preseason game against Utah where he saw 18-year-old Dragan Bender in five years, head coach Earl Watson didn’t hesitate. “For me, Dragan is Lamar Odom,” he said. -- ArizonaSports.com

Marquese Chriss’ rim-rolling dunk reminds us of someone: You knew Suns rookie Marquese Chriss will be good for a highlight dunk or two every game. That’s also true in the preseason, when meaningless basketball can produce things that, in a vacuum, are amazing. Heck, this play in Phoenix’s Wednesday night preseason game against the Utah Jazz was still great within context. -- ArizonaSports.com

Suns’ Devin Booker wants to spend more time at the free-throw line: The Phoenix Suns are hoping a certain aspect of their first preseason game can become a trend rather than an occasional occurrence. Second-year shooting guard Devin Booker found his way to the foul line eight times in 24 minutes against the Spurs. He knocked down all of them in a 91-86 win Monday night. -- ArizonaSports.com

Earl Watson finds comfort in second year with the Suns: Outside of being named a head coach in the NBA, Earl Watson will be the first to admit last year was a trying one for him, both personally and professionally. His appointment as Phoenix's head coach came at the cost of seeing his friend and mentor Jeff Hornacek fired. He was dealt a thin roster besieged by injury, and had the task of trying to enforce winning principles amid consistent losing. -- The Salt Lake Tribune

Earl Watson still has good feelings about Jazz organization: Earl Watson, starting his first full season as head coach of the Phoenix Suns after taking over for Jeff Hornacek last February, still has fondness for the Jazz organization, which he played for from 2010 to 2013. “The Jazz will always be special for me,” Watson said. -- Deseret News