Court Report: Suns Return Home, Host Cavs
After going 1-2 on their three-game road trip, the Suns returned to US Airways Center to face the Cavs on Friday on the front end of a back-to-back set of games. Suns head coach Alvin Gentry met with the media after Thursday’s practice to reflect on the trip and look forward to this weekend’s contests.
1. What Brown Can Do: Despite Shannon Brown sinking all six of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter to finish with 24 points off the bench in Wednesday’s win over Charlotte, Gentry said that he prefers to have the Suns shooting guard continue to come off the bench. Although he also scored 18 against the defending champion Heat on Monday, the coaching staff believes that the former Michigan St. Spartan is too valuable as an offensive sparkplug with the second unit.
“We’ve looked at everything in every way, but I think he’s really comfortable in the role that he’s in,” the Suns head coach said.
2. Sharing the Rock: One area from the trip that caused some concern amongst the Suns coaching staff was some “selfishness” that surfaced with the basketball in the second half of the Orlando-Phoenix game Sunday. But Gentry chose to focus on the positive, which was that his club corrected that issue against the Bobcats, going as far as “overpassing” in that contest.
“When we move the basketball we shoot a high percentage,” he noted.
3. Player Status: Suns backup center Jermaine O’Neal, who missed the Suns-Bobcats game due to a death in the family, was still tending to business back in his home state of South Carolina when the media spoke to Gentry on Thursday. Gentry had yet to hear what his center's status was for Friday’s matchup against Cleveland at that point in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, rookie point guard Kendall Marshall, who was also unavailable against Charlotte after spraining his ankle in a Tuesday night workout with the player development staff, participated in practice Thursday.
4. Tale of Two Quarters: The Suns started their road trip in an impressive manner, uncorking 33 points in the first quarter of their game against Orlando on Sunday. Not only was it their highest offensive output of the season for a quarter, but they followed that outburst by holding the Magic to just 20 points in the second period.
However, those two quarters were undermined by a third quarter that saw Phoenix surrender 40 points to the Magic.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” Gentry said. "They played great, and came out and shot the ball well. Actually, they took some bad shots that went in and we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket at all.”
Although Phoenix blew a 14-point lead to Orlando, it was able to hold on in the face of a similar run made by Bobcats.
5. Tuckered Out: Bobcats forward/center Byron Mullens was on a roll heading into crunchtime of their game against the Suns. Mullens had already poured in 24 points.
That’s when Phoenix subbed in swingman P.J. Tucker. Mullens went scoreless the rest of the night.
“That’s who he is and that’s why we signed him,” Gentry said. “He really accepts that challenge.”
The Suns coaching staff first caught a glimpse of his intensity at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League.
“He’s a lot like Grant Hill in that he’s a multiple-position defender and that he accepts the challenge of guarding those guys,” Gentry added.
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