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What, them worry? Suns' mood remains buoyant despite Lakers' Game 1 victory

SUNS FYI

Coach Alvin Gentry and his players say their focus is on what they must do to improve after their 128-107 loss Monday night. 'Our goal is to make it a long series,' Gentry says.

May 18, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Some of the Phoenix Suns sat in the seats inside Staples Center, chatting with the media. Some of them stood on the court, playing shooting games with teammates and coaches.

For the most part, the Suns were in a relaxed, conversational mood Tuesday some 13 hours after a thorough beating by the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.

The Suns did their media obligations before Coach Alvin Gentry shouted above the din, "Let's go to the locker room," where the Suns would watch the horror film from a game in which they once trailed by 28 points before losing by 21.

"I tried to forget about last night after the game," Grant Hill said. "You got to be disappointed. But we can't be so discouraged and lose confidence. We've just got to improve. We have to figure out on both ends how to improve."

All the Suns claimed not to be down.

After all, it was just one game, and with Game 2 Wednesday night in Los Angeles, there remains an opportunity for the Suns to defeat the Lakers and steal home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series, even if it's looked upon by many as a tall task.

"We're playing the world champions," Gentry said. "There's a reason why they are the world champions. It's not like they just let people waltz in here and win on their home court. We understand that. Our goal is to make it a long series and have an opportunity somewhere to win a game here. That's what our approach has to be."

One strategy it would seem the Suns might want to employ is double teaming Kobe Bryant, who torched them for 40 points.

After Portland's Andre Miller scored 31 points and handed out eight assists in the Trail Blazers' Game 1 victory over Phoenix in a first-round series, the Suns doubled Miller the rest of the series.

Gentry was asked whether he would do the same against Bryant.

"Guys, the shots that he made, we can run anybody at him. We can run Schwarzkopf at him, OK?" said Gentry, referring to retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who served as commander of coalition forces during the Gulf War in 1991.

"It does not matter. [Bryant] makes those shots and he'll make them against anybody. That's what he does. There's a reason why they pay him $30 million a year."

The Suns also need better defensive and rebounding efforts from Amare Stoudemire, who had 23 points but just three rebounds Monday.

Gentry said the Suns have to play better weak-side defense, close out on open shooters, prevent dribble penetration and do a better job on the boards; the Lakers outrebounded the Suns, 42-34.

That sounds like a lot.

"If we would have won the game on their home court, would guys think the [series] was over?" Gentry asked. "I wouldn't either.

"We're disappointed, but not discouraged. We still think we can make it a series."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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