ALVIN GENTRY TALKS CLIPPERS

Photo: Anwar Torres

Prior to Saturday afternoon’s game with the Clippers, Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, who manned the sidelines for the Clippers from 2000-2003, talked about DeAndre Jordan, Lamar Odom and numerous other Clipper-related topics. Among other things, he said he doesn’t see any reason why the Clippers should not be thinking about playing for a title in June.

On his overall perception of the Clippers and the team’s bench:

“They’re a really, really good team. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be talking about an opportunity to win a championship. They’ve got good starters. They’ve got by far the best bench in the NBA. It’s not even close I don’t think. When you bring in Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford and this kid [Eric] Bledsoe, the improvement he’s made this year.. I think Ryan Hollins and [Ronny] Turiaf this year have both played really good basketball. I’ve seen games where the second unit has really gotten separation for them. In the games they struggled, the second unit is really the one that’s got them back in games, so when you’re that deep and you’re loaded with veteran guys and good young players like Bledsoe, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be thinking about playing in June.

“I just think Gary Sacks has done a good job putting this thing together and giving them an opportunity to win.”

On DeAndre Jordan:

“I think somebody said he’s scored one basket outside the paint in the last two years and I wanted to know why that was a negative. I’d like to figure out how that’s a negative, if a guy is getting all of his baskets right at the rim. I think he’s made great improvements. I think overall, his footwork, and what he’s done offensively. And obviously, he’s got the best guy in the world throwing lob passes to him, so he’s come up with a lot of easy baskets.”

On Lamar Odom:

“Things change in 10 years. I think he still a very good player.I think he’s still a guy that can play three positions on the floor, I think he’s still a guy that can rebound the heck out of the basketball. They don’t need for Lamar to do the things we needed him to do when I was here as the Clippers head coach. He doesn’t have to be that kind of player but he can be really important to his team. I really think that he can be really important.”

On some of the things an opponent has to do against the Clippers:

“You have to do as good a job as you can trying to contain Chris Paul. That’s always a key for this team. I think you have to try to take away the, what we call the ‘SportsCenter’ plays. You have to try to take Blake, DeAndre and those guys away from those lobs, which is easier said than done because you’re spending all your time trying to contain Chris Paul. Then I don’t think you can turn the ball over against this team. This team is very good when you turn the ball over in the open court.

“It’s an extra mindset with Chris Paul because he’s always been; you know I can’t remember the last time he didn’t lead the league in steals so obviously you’ve got to protect the ball around him. But these guys do a great job of playing passing lanes simply because they have Blake back there, they’ve got DeAndre back there blocking shots. You’ve got very athletic people on the wing trying to do that. As I said, I don’t know what a weakness on this team is. Maybe free throw shooting but usually Chris Paul is going to have the ball at the end of the game so it doesn’t really matter anyway.”

On the Clippers’ ability to get out on the fast break and push the basketball:

“A lot of their fast break points are on the end of steals. That’s a big difference than just rebounding the basketball and getting out and running. I think what you’ve got to do is avoid, what we call live turnovers, and that’s giving them an opportunity to run down when they have numbers because if they’ve got numbers then they are as good as anybody in the league as far as finishing off 3-on-2 or 2-on-1 plays.”

Reflecting on his time with the Clippers

“I enjoyed my time here, I really did. I had a really, really young team. I mean, we were a really exciting team, as a matter of fact I think we ended up selling out the last 27 home games we played. We also had eight guys who had college eligibility. But we were pretty much one of those teams where we were great, we could play; I think we had 18 games that year where we were either tied or one basket down in the last 5 minutes of the game and we didn’t do very good at winning those games.”

On the Clippers fans:

“It was fun and I think they’ve got a great fanbase here. We had a really enthusiastic crowd here and I think right now they can kind of feel the tide turning a little bit. It’s been a long time since that has happened. I think overall they feel good about where the franchise is going and they feel good about where they are as a team.”