Newsroom Notes: Bench Powers Suns Over Warriors
Posted: Jan. 2, 2012
During the preseason, Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry stressed to anyone who would listen the importance of a team’s bench during the course of a condensed 66-game season. During a Monday matinee game against the visiting Warriors, Suns fans saw why.
The Suns extended their winning streak over the Warriors to seven games when they captured a 102-91 home victory. Phoenix’s bench, which leads the NBA in scoring, put up 43 of the team’s 102 points on the day.
“I think all of the benches I the league are going to have to play (well),” Gentry said. “We just finished up three (games) in four nights and now we leave tomorrow to go to Dallas and then we come back and play again and then we leave on a trip where we play five games in eight days.
“It’s just the way it’s going to be so I think everyone’s bench is going to have to step up and play. And I think if you look around the league this year, you’ll probably see more guys being used off the bench than in the 1999 (shortened) season.”
Anchoring the reserves was rookie forward Markieff Morris, who posted 16 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-13 shooting. He became the first rookie to score in double figures in his first five games since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2002.
What’s even more impressive is that Morris was getting minutes down the stretch.
“That was big for me, to be a rookie and have Coach play me that late in the game,” Morris said. “It just shows his faith in that and I always thank him for it.”
Suns captain Steve Nash has talked about the Suns’ small margin for error and the importance of a strong second unit to combat that. Fortunately for Phoenix, a deep bench has been a staple of Gentry’s since he took over the reins as head coach.
What’s Been Eating Steve Nash?
Arguably the best shooter in the game, former two-time MVP Steve Nash came into Monday’s game shooting a mere 31 percent from the floor on the season. The reason: a bruised left rib cage.
He first injured it against New Orleans in the home opener when he collided with an opponent, but hasn’t found the opportunity to heal with limited breaks between games. It also doesn’t help that he is struck in that sensitive spot nearly every game.
“It feels like it’ll improve overnight but then I’ll take a shot and I’m guarding and holding my breath and don’t get a lot of mobility,” Nash said. “But tonight I felt like my legs felt good and so I was able to overcome that a bit.”
Last season, Nash was the team’s leading scorer, while shooting 49-percent from the floor. Now, he’s averaging just 8.3 points a game. However, against Golden State he showed glimpses of overcoming the injury, shooting 9-of-13 from the floor.
“There’s no magic formula,” Gentry said. “We just have to manage it the best that we can.”
Game of Runs
Due to the condensed nature of the season, you’re going to see a lot of streaky play from teams around the league. With practice time being a prized commodity, the Suns are going to have to be able to make adjustments to their play during games.
Unlike previous seasons, the Suns won’t have the luxury of holding long practices to correct inconsistencies. With virtually no breaks in the schedule that will allow two consecutive days of practice, it’s imperative that the Suns figure out what they want to do on the fly.
“Physically we can’t go out and have a two-hour practice,” Gentry said. “We can run through some things and get the timing and everything down, but we’re playing 66 games in 118 days. So you just have to be smart about it from a coaching standpoint.”
Today the Suns waived center Garret Siler. The Suns’ roster now stands at 13.
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