Hill Comes Up Big Again to Help Give Suns 2-0 Series Lead

Grant Hill's 18 points and six boards helped the Suns take a 2-0 series lead over the Spurs.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: May 5, 2010

So, Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry can be accused of playing favorites.

Minutes after his team took a 2-0 series lead over the Spurs in their best-of-seven Conference Semifinals, Gentry continued to glow about his starting small forward, who tallied 18 points and six boards in the 110-102 win.

"Grant Hill never ceases to amaze me," said the head coach. "Here's a 37-year-old guy who has been in the league for a long, long time, and he just does a good job. Everything we ask him to do every night and he never complains. We tell him to go out, and he's always on the best perimeter player. He never complains; he just plays. I've been the luckiest guy in the world to be able to coach him for as long as I have, and he'll forever be my favorite player. He really will."

When told about Gentry's comments, the 15-year veteran responded, "He'll forever be my favorite coach (laughs). We have a great history. In Detroit, the team wasn't the best, and then we reunited here. He recruited me here, actually. I'm happy he's been given the opportunity here. He's just done a wonderful job, and he's such a people person. It's about relationships with him. He can get on you and not make it personal. That's an art form, especially when you have egos and personalities. With him, you know he's coming from an honest place."

Lauded for his third double-digit scoring effort of the postseason, the Suns leading playoff rebounder has been a defensive thorn in the sides of the opposition not only the past two rounds but well before.

"He's one of the best defenders in the league," said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General manager Steve Kerr. "Without him we probably don't get past Portland in the Opening Round. In the first two games of this series, he guarded Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. He's strong enough to switch off on the bigs and hold them off. He's incredibly smart, and he's given our team a toughness and defensive edge that we really haven't had before."

FRYE TALKS DUNCAN

Even though completely shutting down a savvy All-Star veteran like Tim Duncan is a lot like trying to stop an avalanche, Channing Frye has done his best to limit "The Big Fundamental" at both ends of the court.

"If we can get them to run something different and not run isolations to Tim every night…," Frye said. "That's part of my job is make them go to somebody different. It's a mind game and a chess match, and I'm just a piece out there trying to do my job.

"The only things I can do are play with more energy, tenacity and really want it. And make everything difficult for him."

At the same time…

"I can tell my kids, 'Hey, I was playing with Tim Duncan.' And maybe Tim Duncan will say 'Hey. I played against Channing Frye back in the 2010 Playoffs.'"

CINCO DE MAYO

Commemorating the Mexican army's upset win over the French at the Battle of Puebla 148 years ago, Wednesday was Cinco de Mayo, and Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry had his own cause to celebrate.

"The fact we're still playing, and we're involved in the playoffs is a good celebration," he said.

LOPEZ BACK THIS ROUND?

Before Game 2, Head Coach Alvin Gentry didn't rule Robin Lopez out of making his first postseason appearance in this series. Then again, he didn't guarantee anything, either.

"It's just so hard to say," Gentry said. "He makes a lot of progress, but yet he's still not quite there. To me, unless we are totally confident, I don't see a reason to run him out there. Conditioning-wise will be a big thing. If he's not in condition to play, I don't know how much he's worth to us. I don't see him coming back and being a 25-minute guy."

Lopez, who has been out of action since March 26 with a bulging disc in his back, will travel with the team to San Antonio Thursday and is slated to continue full participation in practice.

NEVER COUNT OUT NO. 13

With Steve Nash coming off a masterful 33-10 performance in Game 1 – which was coming off a few days rest following the Round 1 clincher in Portland last week – don't look for the Suns' playmaker to be calling in sick on a gameday anytime soon.

"Joe Dumars said it best," Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry recalled. "'You are 100 percent your rookie year when you walk into training camp. And you're never 100 percent after that.' Bumps and bruises, you just play through it. This is supposed to be a non-contact sport, but there's a lot of contact that goes on. It's part of it.

"Steve will play no matter what. It doesn't matter. Unless it's severe, he's going to play. That's who he is."

STUFF THAT BALLOT BOX FOR STEVE

Not that he isn't in his everyday life, but here's your chance to make a winner out of Steve Nash.

On Monday, the NBA announced the launch of the first-ever NBA Cares Charity Challenge presented by State Farm, in which NBA stars will compete via the league's Facebook fan page to help raise money for the charity of their choice.

Now through this Sunday, fans can view videos featuring the Suns playmaker, as well as Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, and Dwyane Wade each working with an affiliated charitable organization. Fans are encouraged to vote for one of the four player videos on the NBA's Facebook fan page. The player that collects the most fan support will win $10,000 for their selected charity, while the other three charities will receive a $5,000 donation.

Nash's charity of choice is Educare Arizona, an organization dedicated to improve outcomes for at-risk children and their families.

"In Arizona," Nash said on his website, SteveNash.org, "the Foundation has dedicated all of our resources to funding one of our primary objectives: early childhood development. Recent science tells us that brain development is at its most critical from conception to five years of age. That means good prenatal health for moms, and early attention to learning. The Steve Nash Foundation is working closely with the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and the Bounce Learning Network to bring best practices in kindergarten readiness and growth to life in Arizona.

"We've teamed up in a private-public partnership with the Whiteman Foundation, the Ibis Foundation of Arizona, Southwest Human Development and the Balsz School District among others to create Educare Arizona, a 501(c)(3) formed to create a center of excellence for Early Head Start- and Head Start-eligible kids from birth to age five."

To view Nash's video, CLICK HERE.

To vote for Nash, CLICK HERE.