Suns’ off day becomes a work day

Dec 10, 2012, 10:52 PM | Updated: 11:25 pm

Gentry again hints at lineup, rotation changes

Typically, the Suns do not practice after back-to-back games.

However, there the team was Monday on the practice floor at US Airways Center for more than two hours, including a film session.

“We just needed to work,” said head coach Alvin Gentry, who the night prior following the 98-90 loss to the Magic changed his mind and canceled the day off for his players.

“It wasn’t really a punishment or anything. It’s just that I just felt that we needed to come in and we needed to get the work done.”

The Suns have lost seven straight games. It’s their longest such slide since 2003-04, the season before Steve Nash returned.

“It’s disturbing,” Gentry said, “when Orlando is on the last game of a five-game trip…and they end up playing with a little more sense of urgency than we did.”

The problem — or at least one of them, according to Gentry is turnovers. Not so much how many they are committing (Suns are seventh-best at protecting the basketball), but when and what happens after they turn the ball over.

“We’re giving up six lay-ups a game, or 5.4, off of our turnovers. That’s ten points a game where they go dead to the basket and lay it in.

“We’ve got to play smarter basketball,” Gentry continued. “We got to make easy plays and then we’ve got to complete plays. We’re in a hole here and the only way we’re going to get out is we got to dig ourselves out.”

Jermaine O’Neal, now in his 17th season, has been here before. He was on an Indiana Pacers team that lost seven straight in 2001, and eight straight in 2007.

“It’s easy to judge and pick and try to dissect what’s wrong and why it’s not going right from the outside looking in,” he said, “but it’s very difficult to win in this league.

“You try to keep your spirit up because the fact of the matter is that nobody is going to feel sorry for you.”

The Suns have started three different lineups in the last three games. A fourth different lineup is being considered with the club now eight games under .500.

“There can always be guys put back in the lineup or additional guys taken out,” Gentry said. “Until we feel real comfortable with everything that is going on there’s always going to be a chance that we can do that.”

Goran Dragic (sick), Sebastian Telfair (thigh bruise) and P.J. Tucker (knee sprain) all missed practice Monday.

That meant assistant coach Dan Majerle and player development coach Corey Gaines had to step in at times so the team could work 5-on-5.

“The frightening thing,” Gentry said with a smile, “is that they were two of our better defenders.”


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Suns’ off day becomes a work day