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Phoenix Suns (Mid)Preseason Practice Report: Defense is Coming Along

"Work in progress". "Rebound by committee". "Pleased with where we're at"

That's pretty much sums up what Phoenix Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry is thinking right now with his team 2-2 and half way through the preseason schedule.

So far the focus has been primarily on the defense and Coach is pleased with what he's seeing so far.

I was a bit surprised when I was poking around the stats page this morning and saw that the Suns are leading league with 13.25 steals per game with Jared Dudley as the individual leader with 3 spg in only 19 minutes and Grant Hill at 4th (2.3 spg).

Gentry isn't impressed with those numbers, "Don't read anything into it. I don't read anything into that. I think what you have to do is take the whole body of work and look at that. I think from our stand point we've gotten better at what we are doing defensively in our rotations and being able to simplify things and be consistent in what we're doing. We've been pretty consistent in what we are doing."

The Suns however, will be a team that is aggressive on the defensive end and looks to force turnovers unlike a good defensive team like San Antonio who traditionally hasn't recorded a lot of steals.

"I think we have to try and force turnovers. We've got an athletic group of guys and we don't have that big long Tim Duncan back there to protect the basket for us. Especially with Robin (Lopez) out. With Robin out we play a little bit differently with that second group defensively. But right now, Earl (Clark) and Louis (Amundson) have been terrific on that second unit there and we're really undersized but they've done a great job of just being active and talking and getting in rotations so I've been real pleased with the way they've played," Gentry said.

So far, Gentry is happy with what he's seen from his rookie lottery pick but he warned not to read too much into that either. "Let's not confuse anything that happens in the regular season with what happens in the pre-season games."

Coach Gentry is keenly aware of how undersized the Suns are without Lopez but is looking at the glass as half-full, "There's some limitations we can't do anything about. We've just got to do what we do. The things that we do well we've just got to try and take advantage of that."

On the offensive end, the Suns are spending a little more time in practice on spacing and working with the big men to make quick decisions on setting screens and drags (screens in transition). Gentry called the offense the least of his worries.

Grant Hill sat out the last game against Portland with an ankle strain. He would have played had it not been a "meaningless" game according to Coach Gentry and he was on the floor for the team's practice today.

The Suns face the 76ers at home Friday night and then play the same team again Sunday in Monterrey, Mexico. That game will be on NBA TV at 4pm local time.

Other notes:

  • The team definitely looked tired after playing the last three games on the road and getting in about 3am this morning
  • That didn't stop Gentry from running a speed and conditioning drill to end practice. Interestingly enough, it was the same drill that the Iowa Energy coaching staff used to warm up the guys that came to their open tryout the other day
  • Despite being tired, the Suns ran the drill just a tad bit better. And by a "tad bit" I mean 10 times better
  • Robin Lopez was sitting on the side lines with his foot in a boot
  • The guys did give Dudley some good natured flack for wearing those tights to keep his legs warm (Louis was wearing them as well but I didn't hear anyone rib him)
  • Nash delivered a pass to Taylor Griffin for a dunk. It was a half court pass delivered from his right foot
  • A closer look at the Suns offense from our pals at KTAR.com - Suns using preseason to get familiar with each other, fine tune details