Suns to play tonight like a regular game

PHOENIX — With tonight being the second-to-last preseason game, the Suns will treat it as if it were a regular season game as far as their rotation goes.

So expect a heavy dose of the starters, and no Dan Dicakus or Carlos Powells closing this thing out.

Still, Gentry plans on using the final couple games to narrow the Suns down to a rotation of 8-10 players depending on the night.

As for what he’s looking for during the remainder of preseason, Gentry said, “We’ve got to look at offensive consistency and what we’re trying to do defensively. I’ve been happy with the progress that our defense has made. I still think we’re baby steps, but I do think where we are right now, we’re a lot further along than we were.

“The other thing is we’ve got to find a way to rebound the basketball. We’re getting overpowered on the boards, and we’re going to have to do a better job of that.  We have to try to get that corrected. Even if we’re undersized we’ve still got to box out.”

Although Gentry knows rebounding certainly has something to do with effort, he thinks the Suns can improve on their rebounding technique.

“You’ve just got to put your body between that man and the basket because he is going to be bigger,” Gentry said.

I’m interested to see how Goran Dragic comes out tonight after shooting 0-for-12 from the field in the Suns’ last two games against the Sixers, including one in which his plus-minus was 58 points worse than Nash’s.

I would presume he is going to be in the Suns’ rotation because, well, he’s this team’s only backup point guard once Dickau is cut. But if he doesn’t play aggressively and with confidence, the Suns will be in trouble — as usual — when Nash sits all year long.

“I think he’s got to relax and play like he did at the end of last year,” Gentry said. “I think that’s going to be important. He’s going to have to step up. The thing about being a rookie we can’t use anymore, so he’s going to have to show some progress and make his teammates believe in him as well as the coaches.”

A couple other notes, Gentry praised Jason Richardson for having the best training camp/preseason thus far, particularly on the defensive end. Gentry sat down with Richardson during the summer and then again when he first got back about the kind of defensive player he needs to be, and thus far Gentry has been pleased with what he’s seen out of the man known as J-Rich.

Gentry is also happy with the progress of Amare, who is “getting better every day” in his return from retinal detachment surgery, although the coach feels like “he still has a ways to go.”

And finally, Gentry gushed once again about NBA preseason steals leader Jared Dudley, who has recorded 3.17 picks per game entering tonight’s contest.

“He’s done a good job, but everybody says, ‘Boy, you have to be really surprised,’ but I’m not,” Gentry said. “I don’t think any of the coaches are surprised. He is who he, that’s an old cliché, but he really is. Every coach dreams of having guys like him to coach. He does the right things in the right place, plays with a lot of effort, good team guy.

“I don’t know any coach he’s played for that doesn’t love him.”

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