Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/2/12
PHOENIX -- Alvin Gentry assumed the responsibility of carrying 1-year-old Matteo into the Phoenix Suns' locker room on Monday afternoon. The Suns' head coach seemed happy to do it. Well, he sort of owed the kid's dad a favor. Matteo's old man is Steve Nash, and the veteran point guard did Gentry a solid by carrying his team down the home stretch of a 102-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors. This well-timed triumph prevented the Suns from sliding even closer to scary territory. Now 2-3 after eight days of the post-lockout campaign, the Suns could have steamed into a 1-4 beginning and threatened the season-opening 1-5 calamity recorded by the franchise's 2006-07 edition. That squad, it should be noted, rallied to finish 61-21 and win the Pacific Division, something any heroic uprising from Nash -- who scored 9 of his game-high 21 points during the last 2:25 -- will have a really tricky time duplicating. So rather than seizing yet another marketing-department battle cry of "This Is Our House" as an opportunity to transform US Airways Center into a cozy bed and breakfast for NBA teams, the Suns managed to collect their first home win of the season. "I thought we did a great job of grinding it out," Gentry said. "At this stage, we'll take a win any way we can get it." Getting it this time required Nash (9-of-13 shooting, 9 assists) to battle through painful ribs. The Suns also needed a 16-point, 9-rebound performance from promising rookie forward Markieff Morris, an overall rebounding margin of 13, and a second-half eruption of accurate 3-point shooting. "We jumped up and we made some shots," Gentry said of a Suns team that had a field-goal conversion rate of 41 percent overall and 26 percent from 3-point range before Monday's victory. "We may not be 50 percent this year, but we're not 44, either." In reaching triple digits for the first time this season, the historically fast-paced Suns began the day ranked 23rd in fast-break points. They didn't do much better in this category (10) against Golden State (2-3), but finally were rewarded for staying true to another function of their offense. Right, the almighty 3-pointer. "We've missed so many shots that we normally make," Nash said after he and his teammates clanked 11 of their first 12 3s, but rallied to bag 7 of their last 11. "Just shots that we're accustomed to making and that our offense is predicated on. "When we're not making shots like that, it puts a lot of pressure on us." With limited options for dribble penetration or post-up domination, isolation strategies don't define this interpretation of the Phoenix offense. Gentry does seek to exploit some mismatch opportunities (such as those created by a Warriors team that features 6-foot-3 dynamo Monta Ellis at shooting guard), but despite those maneuvers, the Suns aren't exactly a one-on-one powerhouse. And even though they no longer are blessed with the foot speed, transition advantages supplied by the likes of Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa and Amar'e Stoudemire, quick advancement of the ball often creates cleaner looks from the arc than Phoenix can generate in half-court sets. Although tempo-related statistics often are at the mercy of other variables, the Suns' pedestrian rank in pace (21st going into Monday) may help explain why they also were 21st in offensive efficiency. Gentry, who doesn't think Monday's shots were any easier than those his team missed over the first four games, said the cold shooting is a league-wide, conditioning-related epidemic. "It's just the way the NBA is gonna be for about 20 games," he said. Nash, who admitted to still being rusty through seven games of a normal preseason (this year, the Suns have had two practices games and five real showdowns), thinks more time is required before we witness a more crisp brand of basketball. Especially from an almost 38-year-old point guard with sore ribs. "I'm just trying to hang in there for the guys," he said. "I gotta make plays for this team. I just wanted to hang in there and get a little confidence going." That does double (or triple) for the tricky shot-making part. It's impossible to challenge any notion that hot shooting also lends itself to contagion. "Once you see the ball go in," Jared Dudley, who made 2 of 5 from 3 and finished with 15 points, said, "at least for individual purposes, you start to get a little more confidence." It's also refreshing to notice the Suns grousing a bit about their defense when the opposition is held below 100 points. OK, so the Warriors made half of their field-goal attempts and managed to shake free their eager snipers, who made 7 of 17 from 3-point range. Gentry pointed out that match-up issues created by the small-ball Warriors (who were playing without power forward David Lee) often provoked different Phoenix rotations, leaving certain players out of defensive position. Hakim Warrick, for example, played several minutes at small forward, and was caught crowding the lane from the weak side a couple of times. But to the good, the Suns forced 17 turnovers, didn't foul themselves into rotation oblivion and (as listed above) owned the glass. "The effort's good, the communication is good," Dudley said, "although we've got to communicate a little bit better." If anything, the Suns' commitment to providing help-side defense early and often was exploiting by skip passes to open shooters. "Definitely," Dudley said when asked if the Suns can be a little more gung-ho than necessary on helping in the lane. "We need to do a better job of identifying shooters and knowing who we can help off of and who we can't." All of this becomes a lot easier when the rest of us are able to (once again) identify a few of the Suns as shooters ... and makers.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Dodgers transfer Andrew Toles and Scott Kazmir to the 60-day disabled list

Looking back at 40 years of women racing in the Indianapolis 500

U.S. national soccer teams to wear LGBT-themed jerseys to celebrate pride month

Mike Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater still has ‘long ways to go’

Report: Clippers concerned about Chris Paul leaving to sign with Spurs

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker