And who the Suns are isn't a team that is going to out-score and out-run people. This team got good when the defense improved and they were getting stops and running off those misses.
Today at practice, there was an admission that the Suns got away from their core fundamental defensive principles going into this series and now having seen that fail, they will go back.
I've said my
piece peace on this topic; here's what the team had to say.
"We talked about that. We're getting back to what we've done all season and not trying to change because we're playing the Lakers, but do what we've done from day 1 in training camp. Today was about that, getting back to the basics."
"I think you're right -- we were unsure. We weren't acting instinctively, there was a lot of thinking out there. In certain situation, we just have to stick to our principles ... If you do that, you don't know if you're going to win or lose, but at least you know you're going to be more comfortable doing what you do best. Doing what you've been doing all season defensively."
"Going into the series, we did make adjustments before Game 1 that were different than we did in the past and they weren't successful. Maybe we will look to mix things up more or maybe we will look to go back to what we did throughout the year."
"With the triangle, we went to different options in the post. We doubled Kobe early, we tried to front everything in the post and double it ... so there's a couple of things we didn't do quite as much of in the regular season. I thought they were good adjustments going in, but they handled them."
"I think we're going back to what we're doing all season long. We made a few adjustments from Game 1 to Game 2 and it didn't quite work out well for us, so we got to go back to what we know."
"That's when they went to Gasol more. When we went small and they had Odom in there and they went to the high-low action because our rotator guy was only 6'3" rotating to a 7 footer. So it made me look like I was on an island out there, but it was the strategic plan from our point to front the post and bring on that bottom rotation and try and trap them from the bottom side, but their guys were so tall they able to catch it and finish right over the top."
So yeah, playing defense is about manning up and fighting harder, and there was recognition of that as well, but the strategic decisions to change the way the Suns played defense against the Lakers didn't work.
The team was uncomfortable and thinking too much and that, in my mind, prevented them from just playing hard. I would expect to a see a much better defensive performance in Game 3 based on what I heard today.
Other Practice Interview Notes
- "The only thing we can do is play our hearts out. You've got to go out there and fight for every inch, contest everything, do everything in your power to challenge and contest every play they make on every inch of the court."
- "A lot of that comes down to intelligence. Sometimes it's when to back off a wrestling match. Sometimes it's when to be more physical. Hustle, I think, comes from the mind and we have to be turned on. We have to be thinking ahead, anticipating and have the attitude that there's no excuses and we're going to do what we can to compete and earn every inch of the game."
- They knocked us in the mouth and what we were doing didn't work or affect them. We've got to do something different or something better. It's a great time to come home.
- "I don't think we did a lot of zone or a lot of trapping. I think it was a couple of possessions here or there and I think they worked for the most part when we did them. I don't think that's a big deal."
- I don't think he (Amare) should listen to anyone but himself. If he looks in the mirror and thinks he can do better, he will. We're a team. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We can't point fingers at anyone but ourselves collectively.
- Continue to work hard and believe in myself and the shots are going to fall. I've just got to play hard and relax.
- Sometimes you have a stretch of bad games. It happens.
- I was just off rhythm and they took advantage of that.
- My shot looks good. I'm just missing barely off left or right.
- We just have to come out and have fun.
- I don't care about no bright lights. You're talking to the wrong person.
- I was trying to be something I wasn't. Being serious. Ah gosh, I've got to make this shot instead of letting it fly like I usually do.
- Just have to come out here and play ball like we've done all year.
- It's not so much their length as them taking advantage of our defensive mistakes.
- There's no confidence problems. There's no mental problems. Instead of trying to win the game on every shot, I need to come out and play some D and get some boards and focus on that.
- Anytime you lose, it's not fun.
- We're doing everything the coaching staff is asking us to do. Front the post or double Kobe or send traps on Gasol. They're just doing a great job finding the open spaces there and taking advantage of the high-low action.
- Why do you think it will work now? We're going to change it up and do something different for Game 3 and see if it works.
- A lot of fingers pointed at me right now. Last year, we didn't make the playoffs and now we're back in the WCF. We're playing the defending champs. It's never easy when you're undersized.
- From my stand point, I am doing everything the coaching staff is asking me to do.
- We didn't expect Artest to shoot the ball that well. We have to adjust on the fly.
- We win as a team, we lose as a team.
- We're going to make adjustments for Game 3 and fight as hard as we can.
- When it comes my way, I'm ready to attack.
- Gasol is very crafty in the post. He's a great player, but he has a lot of help. It makes it hard to guard a guy when you have to focus on everybody.
- We've done a great job this year. Playing these guys is a little bit tougher for us.
- Double Kobe not so much, but still make it hard for him.
- Just try to man-up and see if we can get a few stops.
- There's no quit in us. We are going to leave our heart on the basketball court. We have to make sure we're going to have fun, but we're definitely going to play hard.
- Whenever you lose, there's always some negative comments made. When you win, there's more folks on the bandwagon.
- Last year with the same team with Shaq, we didn't make the playoffs. You get rid of Shaq and add me and we make the Western Conference Finals, and that should tell you what I bring what I bring to the team. At the same time, it's a team game and these guys did a great job all season. We've improved so much. We should enjoy the success and try and get over the hump and win Game 3.
- On rebounding. You have two seven footers. That makes a huge difference. I try and box them out and let the guards get the ball.
- In Game 2, I tried to go after the ball more, but when we go small, they can focus on boxing me out and the other guy can go after the ball.
- In the previous games, I've been playing smart and take what the defense gives me and playing efficient. I'll keep doing that, but may be a bit more aggressive. Defensively, we're going to change up a tad bit and go back to what we've been doing all season long and see if we can get some energy from that.
- We're team that plays loose and enjoys it. We'll come back and play hard on Sunday and see what happens.
- Gasol is a really good low post player, that's why we tried to front him. We just got to get them down to 50% and we'll have a chance to win.
- Our offense is fine.
- We've been a good defensive team. We don't have a ton of great individual defenders, but what we've done this year is to defend as a team, so we've got to get better in that area right there.
- Done well rebounding -- giving up 12 offensive rebounds.
- We have to take away easy baskets. We have to come up with some good defense on the big guys.
- We have to do a better job guarding the ball on the wings better, rotating better, being back better. Just overall, we have to be a little bit better.
- If we're doing a good job defensively, those turnovers don't hurt as much. We've not counted on our offense to be the difference in the game. We've got separation by getting stops.
- That's how we got back in the game. We were 11 down and tied the game by coming up with stops.
- They did what they were supposed to do and won their home game. The only thing we are worried about is finding a way to win the third game.
- We scored 110+, so it isn't our offense. We scored enough points, we just have to do a better job defensively.
- At some point, you have to go out and fight. To a man, everyone thinks they can play better and fight harder. We all feel we can do a little bit more. Sometimes -- defensively -- it's taking it personal. We can all do a better job with that.
- We made some changes to try and play against LA. It's getting back to working on and talking about the things we've been doing.
- I don't know if we played zone at the end, to be honest. Honestly, I don't think we did run zone at the end. It's pretty bad when our man looks like zone. At least that wasn't the intention.
- We went over the zone and their zone offense and we may incorporate it more in Game 3.