PHOENIX —took his weekly visit to Dr. Christopher Huston of The Orthopedic Clinic Association today and received another good report.
The Suns’ seven-footer who has not played since March 26 because of his injured back “will continue to have his rehabilitation workload increased based on the evaluation of the Suns’ medical staff and on the condition that no pain or any other issues develop,” according to a Suns release. He will then be evaluated again next week.
But Suns head coach Alvin Gentry does not want to even think about when Lopez could return to practice with his focus squarely on Game 5 against the Trail Blazers.
“Really we’re encouraged, but we don’t really think about that,” Gentry said an hour before Game 5. “Right now everything is focused on how we can beat that Portland team, and then if he’s available, like I have said, it would be a huge bonus. I don’t think it’s something that we keep saying, ‘Boy, maybe he’ll be back in 10 days, maybe he’ll be back in six days.’ I don’t think it’s anything that we can worry about.”
No, Robin Lopez won’t be walking through that door a la Brandon Roy, but an encouraging report is still an encouraging report.
Here are some of the other topics Gentry covered in his pre-game chat with reporters:
On if it’s tougher to play fast in the playoffs: “I’ve never thought that at all. I think we can play at the pace that we want to. It’s got to be us that imposes that will on teams, but they can slow the game down on their end, we don’t have to slow it down on our end. We can still play a fast pace and push the basketball. We’re not a breakneck-pace team, but we are a rhythm team. We have to make sure that we have that rhythm and that spacing and be able to do some things before they get their defense set.”
On LaMarcus Aldridge: “He made a lot of face-up jump shots from 18 feet. We still have taken away his post-up game, we’ve done a good job with that. He’s a big long guy, he steps out to 18 feet, you’re not going to block his jump shot. We’ve gotten there, we’ve challenged it, he’s been able to make some of those. They’ve also used him now more as a pick and pop guy than a screen and roll guy, so we have to rotate and adjust there, but with him shooting jump shots with a hand in his face, that’s something that we can live with.”
On where the series is at: “It is what it is. We know what has to be done. There’s no Knute Rockne speeches that need to be given on either side. Guys know what’s at stake here. We played a whole year to get in a situation where you earn home-court advantage, and you have to take advantage of it. If it goes the distance we have two of the three games here, and if we’re not good enough to take care of business at home then we probably don’t deserve to win.”
On what the Suns need to do to win: “It’s not a secret formula.”
On what would surprise him: “If Oden showed up and played. Or Przybilla. It’s out there guys. We’ve shown them everything, they’ve shown us everything. It’s just a matter of settling it on the floor. We can sit here and play chess games or talk about doing this or doing that, but the bottom line is that you’re just going to have to go out there on the court, you’re going to have to play good, hard-nosed basketball and find a way to win the game. To me that’s what it comes down to. I don’t think there’s going to be any more surprises that we’re going to do or they’re going to do or anything like that. I just see it as you get to the fifth game in a series, everything is pretty much exposed, and it just comes down to playing.”
The Suns have won nine straight games after a loss, winning each of those games by an average margin of 13.5 points per game. … The Suns own the third-best scoring differential in the playoffs behind only Cleveland and Orlando entering the night. Phoenix is yielding the third-fewest points of any West squad (95.0), and the team holds the fifth-lowest defensive field-goal percentage (43.5 percent). … The Suns have averaged 64.5 points in the first half of their two wins and just 46.5 points in the first halves of their two losses. The Suns have shot 54.0 percent in the first halves of their wins and 44.6 percent in their losses. The team up at halftime is undefeated in the series.