Phoenix Suns practice report: Team confident in Jason Richardson

PHOENIX — 6-for-28.

No, it isn’t the passing stats of Cardinals’ quarterback Derek Anderson.

It’s what Jason Richardson shot in his past three games.

Yeah, he had a bad week.

The worst of it came in an 104-98 loss to Memphis, in which Richardson shot just 1-of-11 from the field.

Despite the guard’s recent struggles, Phoenix will not be shying away from J-Rich anytime soon.

“We’ll still run a lot of plays for him,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’ll get himself going again. He’s not going to go 1-for-11 the rest of the year. He’s just had three bad shooting games, but he’ll snap out of it.”

Richardson scored 20 or more points in each of his previous seven games prior to his slump.

“J-Rich will be fine; everyone has a couple games where they don’t shoot as well as you’d like to,” Steve Nash said. “I’m not concerned with it. He’s our leading scoring so it’s important that we continue to make him comfortable and allow him opportunities to score.”

The Suns are 8-4 this season when Richardson scores over 20.

“He’s been kind of a measuring stick for us all season,” Gentry said. “It’s just a matter of getting back in a rhythm. We have not played well as a team, it’s not just J-Rich.”

Out of the zone

In the Suns’ 101-94 loss to Portland Friday, the Trail Blazers played some extensive minutes in zone defense.

Usually against a team like Phoenix, which thrives on open outside looks, a zone doesn’t make much sense.

But with the Suns struggling to find their accuracy, Gentry thinks they might see more of the defense.

“No one should be able to play zone against us, and they got away with it,” Gentry said. “It’s a copycat league. When you play a zone, you give up outside shots. If we miss them, everybody talks about how good the zone is and if we make them, they go, ‘Why the heck are they playing a zone?'”

During their current three-game losing streak, the Suns have failed to score over 100 points in three consecutive games for the first time since 2005.

“It’s just the way it is, we haven’t made the shots,” Gentry said. “We’ve got to be sharper in our execution and we’ve got to know what we can count on night in and night out.”

Robin Lopez update

The center is still on track to make his return to the lineup on Wednesday against Minnesota.

However, what his role will be is still up in the air.

“We’ll either start him or bring him off the bench,” Gentry joked when asked about Lopez.

As for what he’d prefer, Lopez said he wouldn’t mind either.

“I just want to make sure I’m not coming back too early,” he said. “I haven’t felt too tired yet, but we haven’t really gone up and down the court yet,”

Lopez’s teammates are noticing his progress.

“Robin looks good, it looks like he’s ready to get back out there,” Nash said. “I don’t see any ill effects, he’s moving well and looks comfortable.”

Although it is true with the normal center back in the lineup rotations will begin to become a little more stable, the Suns’ coach made a point that Lopez’s return won’t fix everything.

“I don’t want anyone thinking the cavalry has arrived,” Gentry said. “We need for Robin to play well, but it’s not going to be easy, we have to get our whole team playing better right now.”

Tags: Jason Richardson Robin Lopez

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