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Phoenix Suns Practice Report: The Minutes Axe Could Fall Soon

You're fired!! (or at least benched for awhile)
You're fired!! (or at least benched for awhile)

The Phoenix Suns had another spirited practice today. They again worked on various end of game situations and also did some zone offense stuff which is probably in response to the Trail Blazers being so effective with the zone against the Suns in their last two games. You wouldn't think the zone would work against this team and neither does Alvin Gentry.

"Offensively, we haven't been real sharp -- no one should be able to play a zone against us and they got away with it in Portland after playing the night before."

Part of that is just not making shots, which happens. But some of it is being prepared and having a more decisive response to the other team's zone defense. Since this is a copy-cat league, other teams will have seen the Blazer zone be effective against the Suns so it was important for Gentry to spend some practice time on it.

Just do it

Overall though, both Nash and Gentry just think the team simply needs to play better on both ends of the floor.

"We've got to be sharper in our execution and then defensively we've got to start the game the way we played the fourth quarter," Gentry said.

"We had a stretch where we were having great first quarters, didn't seem to matter, now we are having not great first quarters. The bottom line is we just have to play better, I don't care, start, finish, we just have to play better (and) more consistently for 48 minutes," Nash also said.

Getting J-Rich going

There's not any concern about Jason's last three games...

"I think he's an elite scorer and I think it's important to make him feel comfortable and allow him opportunities to score," Nash said.

"He's get himself going again. I mean he's not going to go 1-for-11 for the rest of the year. He just had three bad shooting games back-to-back. He'll snap out of it, I'm not worried about that. We still run a lot of plays for him and (get him) a lot of shots and he'll get going again," Gentry said, adding, "It's not just J-Rich, we've just not played very good as a team the last three games.

Robin almost back

Robin Lopez practiced again today and all signs point to him playing on Wednesday. Watch out, Darko!

"Yeah, sure, he was good again today. We've got one more day to get a good hard practice in and we'll see how he is and what we'll do," Gentry said. As for his role, Alvin would only say, "We'll either start him or we'll bring him off the bench."

Rotational situational alignments

"To be honest with you guys, somewhere along the line we're going to have to shorten the rotation enough so guys are out there where they're playing. We're going to have to try that for four or five games and see how that is and if that's not working we'll try something else," Gentry said about his inconsistent bench.

"What we're doing right now, I don't think we're getting guys enough extended minutes or enough time out there to get into any kind of rhythm. That might something we look at and change a little bit in the next couple of days."

He says that he's not decided yet who that might apply to. It could be Josh Childress who stayed extra late working on his outside shooting -- he's got to space the floor better. Or it could be Hedo Turkoglu.

Hedo has defined inconsistency for the Suns and has yet to find a role on this team. The trade for his big contract might at some point turn out to be a good thing, but right now it's not looking so good. He's shown that he can't start as a power forward and as a ball-handling three off the bench there's only been a few moments where he's really gelled with Dragic. Aside from his late game shooting heroics, Turkoglu hasn't given the team the consistent play they need from him. The flame needs to get turned up in that guy's furnace.

The thing that's most troubling with the bench for Gentry is the lack of consistency. Last year he knew what he was going to get except for nights where guys were especially hot, but there wasn't the roller coaster that there's been this season.

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