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Suns look to return to winning ways at home

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns have lost four straight games and eight of their last 10. It’s the longest losing streak in almost a year for the team and it’s starting to take its toll.

One day after the Suns had a two-and-a-half hour practice, one Grant Hill described as the most intense practice they’ve had since he came to Phoenix, head coach Alvin Gentry and his team are trying to pick up the pieces.

“We need to get a win,” Gentry told the media Friday. “All the problems you have is nothing that a win can’t cure.”

It’s one thing to lose a game on the road in the NBA, it’s another thing to lose games at home.

The Suns are 7-and-7 at home so far this season, which is not exactly what the coaching staff expected after losing just nine games at US Airways Center in the entire 2009-10 season.

“It bothers me a lot,” Gentry said. “One of the things in this league is it’s really difficult to win on the road. For us, we’ve got to do a much better job of protecting [home court].”

Something the Suns will have to improve if they want to win at home again is their team defense and rebounding. They are 30th in the NBA in points allowed and 29th in rebounding. It’s a step backwards from last season and Gentry is looking to rectify it.

“We’re going back to what we did last year,” he said. “We have one way of playing and that’s the way we’ll play. We know exactly where everyone should be in that situation and we’re going to demand that they be there. That’s all. It’s a pretty simple thing.”

Whether or not the changes will be effective is a big question. Gentry, though, feels the players and the coaching staff, himself included, are all responsible for.

“We have accountability here,” he said. “It’s just a matter of everybody taking a look at themselves, including the coaches. Everybody is responsible. It starts with me and we’ll make sure the accountability is there.”

Gentry’s team has a chance to change their fortunes at home Friday as the Detroit Pistons visit the Valley, a team the Suns have beaten four straight times. The head coach realizes that past performance isn’t indicative of future success and that what they worked on in practice will have to show up come game time.

“I’ve been really happy with the focus and the effort we’ve had [in practice],” he said. “It still has to translate to doing the job in the games.”

Making that happen won’t be an easy task for the Suns. The Pistons have plenty of weapons on the offensive end and could prove difficult to stop and are coming off of a 102-94 victory over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night.

“Obviously Ben Gordon, when he goes well, and he seems to play well in this building, they go well,” Gentry said. “We’ve got to do a good job on him.

“They have five guys averaging in double figures. That’s all you need to know about them. There’s not one guy you need to zero in on, there’s a bunch of guys you have to do a good job on.”

Gordon has averaged 22.9 points per game against the Suns in his career, his highest scoring average against any team in the league.