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Suns Hang With the Champs Until the End
By: Brad G. Faye, Suns.com
PHOENIX - Less than 24 hours after battling the Lakers in Los Angeles, the Suns again found themselves matched up with an NBA heavyweight on Saturday night. And despite going toe-to-toe with the Miami Heat for 46 minutes, the defending champions managed to pull away from Phoenix in the final two minutes for a 97-88 win.
Five Suns reached double digits in the affair, three of whom – Markieff Morris, Jermaine O’Neal and Shannon Brown – did their damage off the Suns bench. That scoring discrepancy between the starting unit and the bench could be a key reason why Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry alluded to making some lineup changes in the not-too-distant future.
“We have to make some adjustment,” the coach said following the contest. “We can’t keep playing like this, we have to do something where we can make an adjustment and we’ll see what can happen from there.”
With so many newcomers to the Suns roster, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the very first lineup would prove to be the best. But now 11 games into the season, Gentry believes the time may be right to go a different route.
“I think we tried to make sure we didn't make any rash decisions or any snap judgments, and after looking at this and seeing what’s happened over the last four or five games, it’s time for us to do something.”
With three full days before Phoenix hosts the Portland Trailblazers, only time will tell what those potential changes may entail. But whether it’s the lineup that needs adjusting or not, players agreed after the game that it’s apparent a change of some sort couldn't hurt.
“No matter if you start, no matter if you come off the bench, you have to play with energy,” Suns forward Michael Beasley said. “I’m not talking about anybody individually, and I’m even talking to myself, but we have to play with energy. We have to play like we want to win. We can’t decide we want to win halfway through the second quarter, we’re not that good yet. So if (Alvin Gentry) changes the starting lineup that’s his decision.”
Guard Goran Dragic agreed, “I mean he’s the coach, so whatever he says, he is going to run this team. You know, something is not clicking for us and we have to find some solution. If that is he has to change some players in the starting lineup then we have to do that.”
SHANE BELIEVES SUNS FOUND A JEWEL IN SCOLA
Following Saturday night’s loss, Suns.com caught up with Heat forward Shane Battier to ask the veteran what Suns fans can expect from Luis Scola, who joined the Suns during the offseason. The two forwards played four seasons together in Houston, and Battier had nothing but high praise for the hard-nosed Argentinian.
“He’s one of the toughest players that I've ever played with, one of the best teammates that I’ve ever played with and a guy who plays to win,” Battier said. “He’s one of my favorite teammates of all time.”
As far as how the former Duke standout believes Scola can benefit from playing in a system like Alvin Gentry’s, Battier believes there aren’t many players better suited than Scola to help the organization during this period of transition.
“One thing Luis can do is score the ball, and with this team seeking identity, they need him to put up numbers and he will,” Battier said.
YEARS LATER, SPOELSTRA STILL LIKES MIKE
Another new face on the Suns roster that could benefit greatly from playing in a new system is forward Michael Beasley. Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached Beasley during his first two NBA seasons, said he believes Beasley could be seeing an increase in production by playing for Gentry, and wishes his former forward nothing but luck – most of the time.
“He has great potential in this system,” Spoelstra told Suns.com. “We didn’t play nearly as open as it is here and that will benefit him more. When they’re not playing us, we always root for Michael.”