The Phoenix Suns got back after it on the practice court today after taking a day off on Tuesday and ahead of tomorrow's rematch with the Warriors (who play at home tonight against the
Jazz Nuggets, proving that the NBA schedule makers hate them more than they hate the Suns).
The big talk today was about the chance to get back to .500 with a win over Golden State on Thursday. Does it matter? Personally, I think it does.
Sure, it's just an artificial number but it's a pretty important dividing line between "really bad" and "better than average" in the minds of fans, media and yes, the players and coaches themselves.
Here's what the fellas had to say about that.
"What does that mean? If we were 2-2 would you guys be talking about being .500?" Gentry said before adding, "Obviously, we've got a mountain to climb to get into the playoffs."
Nash went big picture when asked about it and then brought it right back to the here and now. He's a whimsical thinker like that.
"I just think we haven't been a very good team this year for the most part. We're under .500 and every win we've had has been difficult. I feel like we're hopefully getting to a point now that we can gain some confidence and momentum and start to win at a clip that's over .500 and get ourselves in a good position here.
"I think that's a great first goal. Try to get to .500 and then try to stay there and then just try and keep improving. The process is to keep improving and hopefully the wins will come."
Channing Frye doesn't care about .500 all that much.
"It's just the next step. We're not throwing a party or anything. We should have been at .500 a long time ago."
And Grant Hill has never met a question that he can't answer in under three minutes.
"I don't know. It's been an interesting, difficult season at times. It seems that we've improved and are starting to play a lot better. We'll see, but I don't think it's a mental block or anything of that nature...We're not going to do fireworks (in the locker room) if we win tomorrow night."
Note the "..." that indicates numerous sentences I left out of Grant's response in the name of brevity.
Also note the fireworks in the locker room comment was a reference to New Year's Eve when Robert Sarver's kids lit off fireworks in the locker room after the Suns beat Detroit.
Fireworks? Did somebody say fireworks?
Other Fun Stuff They Said And So I Transcribed For Your Information And General Enjoyment And Pleasure
- "I don't think it's a matter of energy (causing fourth quarter struggles). I think sometimes we become a little bit too conservative. We've got to keep the flow and the pace of the game up."
- "There will be time and clock situations where we've got to slow down but in the eight minute area all the way up to the three minute area we've got to keep the pace of the game up. I think we become a little bit too conservative sometimes in those situations, especially when we have a lead."
- Asked about playing Robin Lopez and hoping he gets back to last year's form: "We hope so, that's why we continue to play him. We know that it's in there. He gave it to us last year. So, we just have to keep working with him. Hopefully, at some stag we'll get that play out of him that we got last year."
- On Goran Dragic's status: "No, I don't think he'll play tomorrow. I think it's getting there, but I wouldn't count on him tomorrow. I still say he's probably a couple of games away. He's got to be able to move laterally and put some weight on that (toe). It was a little ginger today I think."
- He did some stuff, ran around but didn't do five on five.
- Asked about comparisons between Curry and Nash: "We've got to give him (Curry) a chance to develop a little more. Everybody sees the finished product with Steve but we've got to go back and look at Steve in the second year in the NBA. I think the potential is there."
- "He (Curry) has got to get a little bit stronger. The one thing that Steve did was he kind of reinvented himself and changed his whole body and I think that Curry would have to do some work in that department right there. I think he's a bright kid that knows the game, shoots the ball extremely well, very unselfish and has really good court demeanor."
- "Your zone offense is that you either make or you miss shots because you're going to get shots. When you make them, everyone thinks your zone offense is great and when you miss them, they say, 'boy, the zone really bogged you guys down.'"
- "I don't think any coach enjoys playing zone to be honest with you but sometimes it's a necessity."
- Gentry said he is following the Melo trade rumors. "I would rather see anybody in New York rather than LA. I'd rather see Kobe go along with him and there's no reason why they shouldn't have Kevin Durant too. Anybody that wants to go East, I'm all for it."
- "There's teams that are playing well. Memphis and Portland being two of them that we're trying to catch are playing real well. We've got to find a way to continue to win games and play our best and then we'll take the results."
- "They went zone in the fourth quarter mostly. It took us out of post ups and gave us different looks."
- "We got stagnant (against the zone) but we also got good looks. We worked on it in practice a little bit so I think we can clear it up."
- We are getting better and hopefully we can win at a higher rate.
- "I really don't hear about (trade rumors) until I come down here and you guys ask me about it. I think it's all speculation from people who need something to write. At this stage in my career, it really doesn't bother me at all. It's not really part of my day-to-day."
- Dudley tweeted that he got Nash a bottle of wine for his birthday, any other gifts from teammates?
- "No, that was it. The rest of the cheap bastards didn't get me anything."
- Asked about watching the upcoming Duke-North Carolina game with Vince Carter (UNC grad) "I never watch the game with the enemy."
- Grant then said (again), "I don't really watch Duke until the Final Four. I'll probably watch a little curling on CTV."
- "I offered to give (Vince) 10 points, but I haven't heard back from him."
- On fourth quarter let-downs:
- "I've been here now four years and have been on some good teams that have won a lot of games. It doesn't happen a whole lot where we just blow teams out....I'll take being up big and learning to have to manage the lead then being out of the game altogether."
- "The four years I've been here, a 20 point lead either way doesn't mean much. That was the mindset when we got down, but even when we're up. You don't want to accept it, you want to try and improve on it, but it's a good problem, I guess, to have."
- Asked about locking up Monta Ellis: "It's never the defense. Guys in this league are too good. You can play great defense and if a guy's going, he's going. There's not a whole lot you can do about it."
- Grant said he feels the same regardless of his minutes but also said that with Pietrus taking some of the work load that, "when I'm out there, I think my minutes are fresher and I'm able to probably be more productive."
- "Grant enjoyed playing against Monta Ellis in the post. It's important to make him work on defense." Also said, "It's cool. It was fun. I felt like Carmelo."