If you were expecting the Phoenix Suns to be hanging their heads the morning after getting run out of the Staples Center ... well, they weren't.
By 10am, they were right back on the floor in front of the empty seats whose cheers rivaled that of a Lakers home crowd. They were loose and serious. Focused and confident. Determined, disappointed, but not quite desperate.
"Guys, I know everyone expects for us to be down and out, but shit ... it's one game. It's one game. They played great, we didn't. You have to give them credit and you've got to move on. That's what the playoffs are," Coach Gentry explained with some measure of exasperation in his voice.
The Suns haven't lost two games in a row since January and they are confident they can correct the mistakes of Monday night and give a better showing.
Most notably, that means hitting open shots and, more importantly, denying lane penetration by closing out on shooters in such a way as to force them baseline and away from the middle of the court.
Grant Hill gave some inkling that the Suns didn't play hard. He wouldn't actually say they didn't play hard and he felt like he played very hard, but at the same time he ... oh, hell. This is what he said:
"I think we played hard in that San Antonio series. I don't know if we played hard or not (in Game 1). I'm not saying didn't. We just scrambled, we just played hard (in San Antonio series). Maybe we played hard last night, I don't know. We didn't play good. We didn't play well. I think that's always something when you lose that you can point to, whether it's true or not, that hey, I can go out and play harder."
You know what he means? I think I do. The activity level just wasn't the same on the defensive end. The Suns appeared to be on their heels, waiting for the Lakers to attack. It's not a good look at all.
Other Practice Notes
- I thought a big part of our offensive issues was missing open three-point shots which allows them to zone up the lane even more.
- Tip your hat to Kobe. Artest made some shots.
- Gave up transition buckets, offensive rebounds, points in the paint.
- "Truth be told, not much defense for what Kobe did last night."
- On Robin's return: I was blown away by his ability and what he was able to give. Our rhythm was good with him and he was outstanding.
- We have to be at our best to win on this floor. The emotion was there as far as energy. We have to be strong, not break. We've got to draw a lot out of ourselves if we are going to win on the road here.
- I thought guys were trying hard, but you have to be more ready.
- Our shooting percentages weren't bad, shots just not timely.
- If they shoot like that every night, we have to play perfect to beat them.
- Question: Did you hear the crowd chant, "We want Boston"? Nash: "Yes, so does the league."
- I'm mobile and can guard more positions out on the floor (than Brook Lopez).
- If put both of us (Brook and Robin) together, we would wreck unholy havoc on the league.
- My body is feeling good right now. No pain, no soreness.
- 90% of post defense is before they catch it. Pau knocked down some tough jumpers, that's a credit to him.
- What created open lanes was us not forcing baseline when we closed out, which is something we've preached since day 1.
- Disappointed in giving up 60% shooting and 128 points. Gave up a lot of easy opportunities.
- It wasn't so much that they threw it inside. Where they hurt us most was dribble penetration. We've got to do a better job keeping them out of the lane.
- We have to do a better job on our close outs and the angles we take when we close out.
- Our offense, we shot 49% and scored 107. If we had a typical defensive game or they had a typical offensive game, we would have been fine.
- Was that their best shot? "I sure as hell hope so. If they play any better then that I think we're going to have a real tough time beating them."
- We have to regroup, refocus and we have to delete this game. We have to move on.
- This team has been mentally tough and we've responded.
- This is an important game, just because of how we lost. For our own selves we need to compete better. The pressure is still on them to hold court. Not quite the World Cup or Super Bowl or anything like that.
- We have to be disappointed in how we played, but we can't lose confidence in who we are and I don't think we will.