Unlike last week when the Suns came home from a road loss to the Lakers and took Friday off before a Sunday game, today they went hard for a full two hours.
The media are let in for the last half hour of practice which almost always is just guys taking shots on their own or in small groups and perhaps a group of four or six of the younger players doing some extra work with the assistant coaches.
Today though Coach Gentry had the team going hard in five on five scrimmage with an 18 second shot clock. Everyone but Nash participated with Barbosa taking his spot on the starters squad and Taylor Griffin subbing in and out for Grant Hill. Nash was fine by the way - obviously there's no need for HIM to get in extra floor time.
The guys were into it and it was great to hear communication on the defensive end and see Gentry really lay into guys when he didn't like what he was seeing. At the same time between plays there was still some joking around.
It was nice mix between intense focus and loose camaraderie.
The highlights of the scrimmage were:
- Earl Clark throwing down a massive jam which drew plenty of oohs and aaahhs
- Robin Lopez practicing with the team for the first time and moving well. Offensively, he hit a nice mid-post hook shot which drew a sharp clap of approval from David Griffin and then on the very next trip down missed a wide open reverse layup which also drew a reaction I won't bother repeating
- It was fun seeing Jason Richardson argue (loudly) for a goal tending call on an inside look by Amare
- The highlight though was in the last couple of plays which were end of game side line out of bounds situations. Gentry had JRich inbound the ball off of Dudley's ass (if you notice he often turns his back to the inbound passer). Jason caught the ball and nailed the three and was fouled by Dudley who turned to contest the shot...laughter ensued as did a joke about the ball almost not bouncing back which you can interpret for yourself
- Practice ended on another inbound play that had the ball going in and Amare setting a screen on Dudley as Jason got open in the corner for a three. That certainly ended the tough work-out on a high note
Steve Nash had some interesting thoughts on the game in New Orleans. I love how he's willing to call out his team for a poor performance and not sugar coat anything. The Suns played poorly. They weren't prepared to battle. They were a little complacent with themselves.
Great to hear Steve acknowledge that:
"If we're honest we didn't deserve to win. We came out lackluster. We got ourselves back in the game but never really curbed the ills that we started the game with. We didn't really have any attention to detail and we gave up a lot of rebounds so our concentration and effort weren't good enough."
Steve talked about the teams tendency to play from behind
"Great that we have the characteristics to come and wins games that we're behind in but that's not the way you want to draw up a game plan. You want to come out early and play well and set the tone. Put doubt in the other team's mind and really have a solid 48-minute performance. You don't play in spurts or patches and have to come from behind. You expend too much energy and you play with fire."
Comparing this year's start to 04/05 when team was 34-4
He said the Suns have played well this year and rebounded the ball well and now they have to prove to themselves they can come back from a bad performance and do well on Sunday.
Nash said the league is stronger this year and especially the West.
Asked where the team can improve offensively
"I still think our rhythm, our tempo, and that seamless flow of getting into our spots and spacing and reading and reacting to one another. I think we've got a lot improvement to do there that just needs time and experience."
Saying more about underestimating the Hornets
"I felt like our energy showed that we underestimated them. I think we knew, we talked about it, Alvin (Gentry) told us this is a game that is potentially trap door for us. We talked about it but I don't think we backed that up or came out with the urgency we needed. Our concentration I thought was less than what was necessary and we found ourselves down big early. That was proof that maybe we underestimated them."
On how much of Tuesdays game was due to Chris Paul being out Nash said
"That's part of it but I think more than that we were riding a little high. We got a little fat for ourselves and we were just too comfortable, too cozy with our 10 and 2 record and didn't take care of business."
"It's going to happen in our league you know but it's frustrating and there's no need. Last night was very winnable so we've got to be greedy."
Talking a bit about the bench
Nash said that Jared Dudley is a huge part of the team and is becoming a leader of the second unit. Robin coming back will be huge. He's the only true Center on the roster and brings a great defensive presence and his offensive game is coming along as well.
I am trying out a new audio recorder. Take a listen and let me know what you think:
And here's the video via Suns.com