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Alvin Gentry can't be blamed for Suns' troubles

The Phoenix Suns put the coach, who was fired after Phoenix went 13-28, in a no-win situation. The Times' Ben Bolch goes coast to coast in the NBA.

January 19, 2013|By Ben Bolch
  • Suns Coach Alvin Gentry talks to point guard Sebastian Telfair (31) in the fourth quarter of a game last month
Suns Coach Alvin Gentry talks to point guard Sebastian Telfair (31) in the… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)

The fall guy

Losing was the only possible outcome for Alvin Gentry after the Phoenix Suns put him in a no-win situation.

Management said goodbye to franchise cornerstones Steve Nash and Grant Hill over the summer, setting up its coach for a not-so-fond farewell.

It should have come as no surprise that a team with nine new players and three new starters would regularly struggle to score 100 points and fail to hold fourth-quarter leads.

Blame the Suns' 13-28 record on owner Robert Sarver and Lon Babby, president of basketball operations, not Gentry, who did his best with meager resources.

"I still think I'm a good coach," Gentry told reporters. "I'm at fault, not totally. There were other factors, but I'm ultimately responsible as the coach."

Gentry, 58, guided the Suns to a surprise run to the Western Conference finals in 2010 and received a vote of confidence Dec. 11, when Sarver said Gentry would coach the team for the rest of the season.

But it seemed obvious Gentry, whose contract did not extend past this season, was on his way out even before the Suns lost 13 of 15 games to fall to last place in the conference.

"I think the writing's been on the wall," Nash said. "It just looks like it to me. They wouldn't extend his contract. They just gave him the year to just kind of play it out. It looked like they wanted to get their own guy in there."

Patents not pending

Everywhere he looks, Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni sees something that reminds him of his fast-paced, floor-spacing offense.

There are the plays his team runs … and the plays his opponents run. Not that D'Antoni is the only NBA coach who regularly feels as if his playbook has been pilfered.

"Everybody steals from everybody and just kind of recycles everything," D'Antoni said, "and you try to make it fit to your personnel."

Whom did D'Antoni steal from?

"Well, I had a drought there for years because Rick Adelman was out of the business," he said. "When he came back, I started getting some plays. I always steal his plays."

Sometimes, the copy can be better than the original.

"We'll laugh at it and say, 'Hey, they do that better than us,'" D'Antoni said. "I think everybody sees their stuff. Plagiarism is rampant in the NBA — a little bit like you guys on the beat."

Odd man in

It's probably safe to say Kevin Garnett wouldn't be an All-Star if voting was left up to the players.

A little more than a week after the Boston Celtics center infuriated New York forward Carmelo Anthony with some incendiary remarks, he annoyed Chicago's Joakim Noah on Friday with what the Bulls center said was dirty play worthy of his team's nickname.

"He's always on some …" Noah said.

Such as?

"Just trying to throw elbows," Noah said. "Cheap shots, just trying to get you off your game. But he's a vet. He's been doing this a long time."

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