More photos » Barry Gutierrez - AP
Defense, it's not always pretty. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)
Anyone want to guess what Alvin Gentry wanted to talk about today? Here's a hint: it rhymes with "refence" and "debounding".
"When you're not rebounding the basketball, what happened in Denver is going to happen, where you give up 52 free throws -- which is the most that's been shot in the NBA this year in a regulation game. If we're going to be a good team, we've got to get a lot better in those areas right there. We've got to defend dribble penetration and we've got to rebound the basketball."
Gentry sounds more like the coach of a 3-8 football team who has lost six in a row -- including two key home games to division rivals -- than the coach of a 8-9 team with 80% of its season remaining. The coach of said football team, however, continues to insist that everything is fine. Go figure.
Just to make sure his point was made, Gentry repeated the defense and rebounding mantra numerous times, even when asked about other things and Steve Nash is on the exact same page.
"I thought Alvin did a great job. He really stressed defense, rebounding, playing harder. This is a situation right now where we've just got to compete ... He's emphasizing the right things (defense and rebounding), he's holding us accountable," Nash said.
Rotations still in flux
What was slightly new today, was an admission from Gentry of his frustration in not having a better grasp on the rotations. He was asked specifically what he thought of having Josh Childress in playing the power forward position. Gentry said he hasn't seen it for enough minutes to say yet and then he went on to riff about the rotations in general.
"We have to continue to try and get better and put guys in a position where we're taking advantage of what they do best. And to be honest with you, we're still trying to figure that out. We move guys here and we move guys in and out of the starting lineup. I thought at this stage we might be able to figure out the best way to play guys and use them, but we're still searching. We're still trying to find the right combinations and the right rotations."
Grant Hill has a little toe problem, per Alvin Gentry. Grant was seen by reporters (me and Paul Coro -- it was a light media day, thanks in large part to the Derek Anderson circus going on in Tempe at the same time) limping down the hallway after practice. He wasn't exactly in a cheery mood.
Is he questionable for Thursday's game? "I don't think he's ever questionable, but we'll see. We'll see how it works out. He has a little bit of an infection there, I think," Gentry answered.
Robin Lopez is two weeks away at a minimum, but "he's not the cavalry," according to Gentry.
"He's another guy we can use because he's got good size, but that's not going to take care of all our problems. We have to start eliminating our problems now and when he comes back, that will be a good positive."
Lopez shot some free throws last week, but today was his first week back on the court doing the "gauntlet." He's just shooting near the basket right now. Robin would only say "I don't know, we'll see" when asked about the two week timeline. He was happy to be back out there even a little bit and said he's tired of watching.
Physically, Steve Nash still isn't feeling great. He continues to fight through it and calls the last four or fives games as "not that stable for me." It will be interesting to see if Nash cannot just battle back from this specific bout with his body, but sustain a high level of health through the entire season.
Random bags of poop
Channing Frye said he played like a "bag of poop" last game in Denver. He was talking mostly about getting into foul trouble. He did make this point that seems reasonable enough, assuming his numbers are correct.
"You know what, we have a lot of dribble penetration. If you figure 50 times somebody's driving at me and I get five fouls, that's one out of every ten times I'm fouling. I'm just trying to do the best I can and protect the rim and I think overall, including me, we need to do a better job not letting guys go to the middle and make sure we cut back dribble penetration."
The Suns dribble penetration defense will be tested Thursday by Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. And who can forget the rebounding tandem of Andris Biedrins and David Lee? If you think the Warriors will be an easy game for the Suns, you've not been watching the Suns recently.
Here's a bit more from Nash:
Steve Nash Says Suns Need More Fire and Discipline To Fix Rebounding And Defense - SB Nation Arizona
You can also take the old kick in the ass thing too far and Nash is one who's always seemed focused on having a good "spirit" and is more of carrot versus stick guys. But right now, he doesn't seem to have the patience for that.