Alvin Gentry mum on lineup changes, Dragic talks 'blackouts' in focus

PHOENIX — Suns head coach Alvin Gentry didn’t reveal his hand on Tuesday after he said there would be changes to Phoenix’s lineup. He would only issue a hint that there will be changes made to put better combinations of players in the game together.

“You’ll know tomorrow,” Gentry said when probed to reveal a new starting lineup. “As I said, certain guys play better or differently with different guys. As a coach, I think my job is to find the combination of guys that are consistent. We’ve struggled in the first quarter and we’ve struggled in the third quarter. So it’s the combination of people we have out there … we’ve been pretty good in the fourth quarter and been pretty good in the second quarter.”

Gentry added that there shouldn’t be a hoopla made over which players find themselves riding the bench for Wednesday’s tip against the Portland Trail Blazers. He said that “it’s not so much that whoever’s not in the lineup is responsible for the way we’re playing.”

A sure bet for the starting lineup would be point guard Goran Dragic, not a surprise for a player that Gentry said has been the most consistent member of the team through 11 games. And despite Marcin Gortat’s complaints over how Gentry is utilizing his skills, it’d be a surprise if the Polish center were benched.

“As a coach, I got to try to put us in a position where it’s best for us to win,” Gentry said. “Obviously he was a part of that and he still is a part of that. The one thing I realize as a coach is, guys are never really … Kobe complains about shots. It’s just one of those things you understand as a coach, and you make sure he understands exactly what you’re trying to do as a coach.”

Gentry doesn’t think Gortat’s comments are a problem

Gortat’s comments about Phoenix’s current offense didn’t appear to bother Gentry on Monday, and on Tuesday the head coach again alluded to no changes being made to spoon feed Gortat. The two would find common ground, Gentry said.

And as far as the situation being a distraction to the team, that also appears to be a non-issue. Gortat again eluded reporters on Tuesday, but both Dragic and Gentry made clear calls for team unity being the key to success as the season rolls on.

“Every day we learn something new about our teammates,” Dragic said when asked about the season as a whole. “We have to be positive and work hard. I mean, in every season, some teams have a bad stretch. The good teams, they find out, they have these situations. We have to stick together as a family and battle ourselves out.”

Gentry meanwhile called for a “bunker mentality.”

“We’re in this together,” Gentry said. “I can trust the guy next to me, and I can trust the guy behind me.”

‘Blackouts’ plague the Suns

Phoenix is still attempting to fix the issue of allowing opponents to go on backbreaking runs. Although the lineup changes might be one obvious fix, Dragic said it is simply about focus.

Turnovers and defensive lapses have been the main culprits.

“Every time when (opponents) make that break, like 10 points up, 15 points, it’s our bad decisions, especially turnovers and communications on defense,” the point guard said. “If they played pick-and-roll we didn’t go under like we said in the meetings — we go over. Those blackouts, I don’t know what the reason is about that, it’s just the focus.”

Gentry said there’s no excuses in learning new defensive schemes at this point.

“What we do is very simple defensively. It’s not a real complicated thing,” Gentry said. “On the side screen-and-rolls we do a certain thing, on the high screen-and-rolls … it’s the execution of it where we seem to be struggling. We’re half a step or a step late on our rotations.”

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