More photos » Ralph Freso - AP
Gentry is not amused by your whining, Timmy. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
In the midst of the fourth quarter run by
San Antonio Richard Jefferson just a couple nights ago, it got me thinking. How many games have the Suns lost because of some timely corner pocket three-point shooting? The answer I unfortunately do not have the time or energy to find, but if one of you feels so inclined to find the response to my query, I'll give you a gold star. But I digress.
This timely, lead-cutting run by San Antonio got me thinking: despite some key defensive possessions on the Suns end just prior to Richard Jefferson doing his best Roger Mason, Jr. impression, what really happened? Seth has deftly explored that it may have been a mixture of miscommunication on when to switch to the zone and heat checks by the villainous Jefferson. While these may be true, the inability to close out games has been happening far too often for it to be coincidence.
I'm not a naysayer, but something's got to change.
While almost every angle on this has been covered (even the ridiculous angles), I'll toss out a few more options. Why not, right? It's game day, the Suns are desperate for a win, and as a blogger, you can basically say whatever you want.
Option 1: Gradually, over time, move each sideline closer to the three-point arc. It's fool proof. The league doesn't actually get out there and measure the courts before each game, do they? No! So let's get a petition going for the Suns to move the sidelines in ever-so-slightly. This will inevitably force even the best corner three-point shooters to step out of bounds sooner or later, effectively negating teams abilities to utilize the corner three. If it worked for Jim in The Office (the ol' "nickels in the phone" prank), it has to work for us. Right?
Option 2: Play a lineup of Lopez, Siler, Frye, Turkoglu, and Clark/Warrick. They can't shoot over 5 almost-seven footers, can they?
Option 3: Actually have a set defensive rotation for late game scenarios. I know, this is an actual suggestion. But, if teams are preparing for the Suns as a track meet with lots of points and no defense, you can guess their offensive plan near the end of games is to spread the court with shooters and have a drive-and-dish mentality. I know the zone leaves the mid-range game more open than man-to-man does, but it at least eliminates the drive and the three-pointer more effectively.
Obviously, each late game scenario will be different. And they won't always be nail biters like the first few games have been. But consistency is something this Phoenix Suns team needs, and having a set game plan never hurt anyone. It's always better to have a set plan and change it if it's not working than to have to adapt on the fly because you're getting beat.
And, though Nash was the bearer of tired legs the other night, here's a quote from Yahoo! Sports' team report:
"We fought for it, didn't have a great game, but I feel really good about our team. We're playing hard, we've been in every game and we just aren't quite clicking yet, so we have a lot of improving to do, which makes me feel optimistic."
There you have it, folks. Steve Nash is still optimistic. Even though he looked pissed off, frustrated, and generally like he didn't trust half of the other Suns on the court, he's optimistic. Call me a naysayer all you want, just know you'll have to answer to Steve "This Is Me Putting On My Good Face" Nash.
P.S. It feels really good to write again, even if it's random, incoherent blotches of words compiled into one "story". I've missed you guys!
P.P.S. To end on a high note (also via Yahoo! Sports):
The Suns actually had to issue a press release Wednesday to announce that Steve Nash was not retiring in two weeks. A local tabloid ran a mock story that claimed Nash had informed the Suns that he would be walking away from basketball on Nov. 15 to run for mayor of his hometown, Victoria, British Columbia. The story was, of course, a hoax, but raised enough questions that the Suns felt the need to address the issue.
Where, oh where, would we be without the tabloids?
You may recall last Friday I wrote a piece related to how High Definition has changed the whole experience of watching sports. Of course, in typical Cantrelli narcissistic fashion, I had to place myself in the center of the piece, imparting some of my own traumatic personal history, and thus, transforming this site of high quality Phoenix Suns content into my own forum for anxious neurotics. Sorry for that.
It is a week later, and for my efforts, the tekkie Gods or NBA Gods or real Gods have played a nice game of "punch Wil in the face with irony or Karma (known in Pali as kamma): My 5 year old, giant big screen, high definition television is officially dead for the moment. Perhaps there was no God of any sort involved, you see I broke it on my own. The details are sketchy and involve a bottle of champagne, a screw driver, and a golden retriever. You can construct whatever scenario you like. I am going to get right to the point:
I would like to invite myself to a BSOTS reader's house for dinner and the game tonight.
I have decided to turn this into a contest. Whoever can come up with the best offer will win the Wil Cantrell Experience. Here are the terms of the deal:
You: Provide comfortable quarters in which to watch the Suns/Grizzlies match up tonight. This includes but is not limited to: reclining chair with freshly washed blanket (April fresh), giant large HD television with cinematic sound, refreshments on demand, silence during the game (I get distracted easily), volume remote control (I get testy with color commentators and commercials) and transportation to and from your home. *Aside, I have been know to get black out drunk, so I shouldn't be driving after a few alcoholic drinks, you wouldn't want your guest to end up in jail, would you?
Me: Provide typical witty banter, impart my infamous and highly respected basketball acumen, tuck your kids into bed (early, like 6 so we don't miss any pregame) and or your wife/girlfriend significant other-we can't have them getting in the way. I've showered this week, so things shouldn't smell that bad (I always watch the Suns in boxer briefs only-it's good luck) *Note, I am prone to fits of rage when the Suns miss a shot or an official makes a bad call, or when Alvin Gentry where's blue, green, red, or and combination of those colors. And I am color blind, so I have no idea how that will play out. Lastly, sometimes I spontaneously break out into "Surfin' Bird" for no good reason. My psychiatrist says it's part of some nervous tick or remnant of a bad acid trip.
By now, you are probably wondering, "why do I want this guy in my house?" Well, below are examples of how cultured, well behaved, and refined I can be. Truly an enhancement of your dinner, pregame experience:
The perfect Gentleman
Class and refinement
Dinner etiquette exemplified
So, let's hear it, whose got the best offer for me? I'll be the judge of course.
Enhancing Experiences (For Realz)
Now on to more serious and applicable matters. The smart phone revolution is well under way, and I am not a part of it. With my limited, single parent income, I'm stuck with *&^%$ brand flip up or flip top whatever. I can receive a call, (when they aren't dropped) and I can text people. But that's where things end. I cannot get game updates or watch a game on the phone.
So here is what I am curious about. Am I missing out? A lot of people have smart phones, some for work reasons, some for fun, because they can afford it, and others because it's an expensive toy, and who doesn't love toys? Personally I've contended that if it wasn't for having a 9 year old kid, and a lack of pay phones in the world, I wouldn't have a cell at all. All part of my deconstructionist attitude. But perhaps times have changed, and it's time I got with the program.
So, fellow Suns fans, I'd like you to help me out (apart from inviting me into your home tonight for the game):
1. Is a smart phone necessary for every day life? That is if you're not an important business person and you need it to check your stock portfolio or talk to your business associates? Do normal unimportant guys like me and Alex Laugan need a smart phone?
2. Would having a smart phone enhance my life as blog guy and sports fan?
I don't need to know brand names or anything, I'm just wondering if I am missing out.
One thing my friends, that I can promise you with 100 percent confidence is that today is not the last time I will make a dumb joke using the name "Hedo". There are not many things in life that I can guarantee, but this is one of them.
On to practice reporting. I mean reporting on practice.
And for once, the big story from practice is actual about practice. This weird day continues.
You might recall (you better recall) that I wrote this morning about Nash's tired legs being the cause for his poor shooting last night against the Spurs. I maintain -- and challenge any of you who disagree to a duel at sunrise -- that Nash HAD to take those shots based on the way the Spurs were insulting him by putting puny Tony Parker on him and staying home on both the shooters and roll men.
What has made the Nash pick and roll so deadly over the years isn't just the amazing bounce passes or the incredible hands and slams of Amare. Teams were FORCED to double cover Nash rolling off the screen which opened up those passing opportunities. If teams are going to simply follow Nash around the screen and have the big man stay with the screener, then Nash must take those shots to open everything else up. The entire Suns offense depends on Nash taking exactly those shots in those circumstances.
The problem comes when Nash doesn't make the shots and he didn't last night and he blamed tired legs just 4 games into the season coming off 4 days of rest. WTH!!!
Here's what Gentry had to say about that.
"I think what we've got to do is that we monitor practice a little bit more with him...I don't think Steve needs to be involved in an hour and a half practice. I think he needs to be involved in about a 40 minute practice. We scrimmage a little bit and keep their timing down but he and J Rich and Grant you know, guys like that, I don't see where they have to be out there 90 minutes in a practice."
If only there was someone Gentry could talk to about limiting Nash's minutes in practice....hmmm.
OK, that's wasn't fair.
Gentry later said that they've been practicing more here early in the season to build chemistry but there's a plan to fix all that. Gentry said he would flip-flop practices so the scrimmages and timing work was early and he could get his vets off the court and then do more teaching stuff with the younger players in the second half of practice.
Problem. Solved. Right?
As for Hedo (the butt of today's headline joke), if you re-watch the game you will see that the Suns went to him early in the first quarter to get him going and, as Gentry said, to take advantage of mismatches against Blair and Duncan. Hedo didn't hit those early shots and then continued to pass up open three's (a Phoenix Suns Cardinal Sin) later in the game. Benching him in favor of Warrick was simply a matter of riding the hot hand.
Hedo did some things well in the game despite the unfortunate box score. He had his first real finish off a solid roll on a Nash pick and roll. He was the ball handler for several pick and rolls with Frye and even Siler. On his best play, the Spurs switched a pick and roll and Hedo attacked Duncan and drew the foul.
I still think that in a few months Hedo is going to figure this all out. I like that he's staying late and working on the practice court and reportedly is also coming in at night to get in some extra cardio work. I see the basic skill sets that he brings and the potential of how that fits on the team. He even had a solid steal on Duncan while guarding the "best big man in the universe" in the post.
I think he's getting better each game and eventually will hopefully be decent. In the mean time, the Suns are treading water without him adding much which is a positive sign for things to come if you believe that Hedo will do. I could turn out to be wrong and Hedo could be a bust, but if you're giving up on him already I have two words for you...Goran. Dragic. I am more worried about Steve's legs than Hedo's play.
Some fun links for your afternoon productivity pleasure.
Game #4 Recap: Spurs outshoot Suns, the Ghost of Corner Threes Past Comes Alive - Pounding The Rock First big win of the season, yes? I know the Suns aren't as potent as they were when A'm'a'r'e' was still turning Nash's glorious passes into buckets, but as the famous line goes, they still are who we think they are - lots of running and creating havoc on offense, especially those dreaded pick and rolls.
SUNS: Suns Practice Interviews - Nov. 4, 2010
Suns.com TV caught up with Alvin Gentry, Goran Dragic and Josh Childress to get their thoughts on the start to the 2010-11 season and what fans can look to going forward.