The Phoenix Suns held another practice today, following up on Sunday's practice and in preparation for tomorrow's practice. This will ultimately lead to shootaround on Wednesday, which is essentially a final practice for the fourth game of the season, tipping off Wednesday evening at home against our old friends the San Antonio Spurs.
According to coach Alvin Gentry, 90 percent of these practice sessions have been focused on basically "honing what we already put in," with the other 10 percent being accounted for with a "few things here and there." Yesterday's practice was described as "really good," while today's was considered without additional clarification to be "not so good."
Asked if the end of game offense is still a "work in progress" without the old standard Nash-Amare pick and roll, Gentry said a lot of words that basically, in my mind, answered the question with a yes.
"We've got some things we can still do in that department, but we also have different guys that we can use. We can use Hedo (Turkoglu) now and use Steve (Nash) as a shooter some. So I think there's a lot of areas where we can still get better and improve. I don't know if it's going to be all pick and roll at the end, but you can best believe that Steve's going to be involved in anything that comes down to winning or losing a game."
European Post Moves
Of note, perhaps, is both Serbian assistant coaches Igor Kokoskov and Nenad Trajkovic working on post moves with a variety of Suns players after practice. Today, Igor was working with Hedo Turkoglu (who often stays late) and Nenad was showing a variety of nifty little ball fakes and up-and-unders to Hakim Warrick and Matt Janning (yup, Matt working on post moves).
On another hoop, coach Corey Gaines was working more on pick and roll type stuff with Garret Siler and Gani Lawal, with the focus on catching and finishing on the move as the roll man. Gaines was an NBA point guard back in the day and had a pretty fine mustache when he played for the Knicks in the mid-90's. Look it up.
- Gentry gave the Lakers credit for making shots that the Suns wanted them to make. Specifically, Artest, Blake and Barnes hit shots, according to Gentry. He must be talking about the timing of the shots they made because combined those three were 11-for-30 (36.6%).
- It was Odom (8-12, 18 points, 17 rebounds) and Gasol (10-17, 21 points, 8 rebounds) that did in the Suns. Of course, those two guys are both playing great basketball right now so, you know, tip your hat and whatever.
- Gentry is pleased with the team's field goal percentage defense so far and thinks it's an improvement on last season. The numbers don't show it (yet): .460 allowed, which is slightly higher than the .452 opponents shot last year. His point specifically was the Lakers "only" shooting 48.4% on the Suns Friday while in the first two games of the playoffs last year, they were in the mid-50's before Gentry was forced into the "girlie" zone. The Suns didn't use the zone extensively Friday.
- "I think we've gotten better (but) everything has to go right for you to beat a team of that quality. We played good, we didn't play great," Gentry said.
- Goran Dragic has played well through three games and was asked if he might get more minutes.
- "There's not enough minutes to go around. There's never enough minutes to go around," Gentry said before adding that there would be some games where he plays 25 to 30 minutes and others where he's at 15 or 18.
- Jason Richardson said he was "happy but not satisfied" with the way the team played the first week.
- J-Rich wasn't too upset about his Michigan State Spartans getting whooped on by Iowa. He was consoled by the Detroit Lions win over the Redskins. J-Rich took his kids to the Cardinals game then over to Grant Hill's house for trick or treating. Jason went as himself (didn't wear his jersey) and his son, who dressed up as Kobe Bryant last year (rough), went as something else this time around.
- Hakim Warrick doesn't worry that people are comparing his dunk in Utah to Amare, "I'm just trying to go out there and play my game and continue to be aggressive and attack the rim."
- That said, he did let a little exasperation slip over all the hoopla, "I guess a lot of people didn't see me play down there in Memphis." His point being -- and it's a fair point -- that this is Hakim's game. He's always been an aggressive and athletic dunker. Just check the YouTubes.
- Hakim is certainly happy to be rolling with Nash, "Having Nash, he can make passes that most point guards in the league can't make ... You'll definitely roll harder knowing that you'll get the ball and whenever you're open, he's going to find you."