Nash says Phoenix Suns can improve with incomplete roster, Lopez decided to weigh options


PHOENIX — As painful of a season as it’s been for the Suns, frustration hasn’t settled into the players or coaches.

Two ugly losses in a row and a three-game losing streak against sub-par teams in US Airways Center isn’t keeping Phoenix distracted from working toward the near future. It doesn’t, however, help solve what exactly the more distant future holds.

Steve Nash will of course be at the epicenter of any moves the Suns make or don’t make. And while he has openly said he’s not one to demand a trade, you wonder what to make of his comments following the home loss to Toronto and then before heading off to play at Portland on Friday.

Dan Bickley believes it’s time for Nash to go a la Peyton Manning from the Colts, but Nash still remains firmly concentrated — if not slightly critical — of his current team.

“We’re definitely showing signs of inconsistency … we’re a team in transition, we don’t have a complete roster,” Nash said bluntly. “So we can’t expect to be at the top, but we can expect to improve. Just try to continue to improve every day and see how good we can get, and see if we can get on a roll enough at some point to get into the playoffs.”

Unlike Nash, head coach Alvin Gentry didn’t want to talk about the roster make-up.

“If I get the maximum effort … then I’ll take the results,” he added. “I’m not going to sit here and whine about what we don’t have. That does us no good.”

It’s natural that both the Suns’ coach and their leader have a straight-ahead mindset despite the team’s struggles. But it’s not a complete stretch to wonder if Nash’s admissions about the roster make-up — comments that weren’t going to be said during preseason — are a sign that the franchise point guard is getting antsy about the future.

The two-time MVP wondered aloud how Phoenix will fill the void of a go-to scorer leading into a mysterious offseason, and he repeatedly described the roster as being without the cohesion to make up for its obvious holes.

“Maybe you never find it,” he said of a go-to scorer. “So we got to keep searching and try to find a cohesion, and find out what works for us and how we can make each other better out there, how we can go to a second or third option in our offense.

“The club’s made a statement that we’re going to wait to the summer to make moves,” he added. “In the meantime, we can’t worry about that. We’ve just got to battle, get our heads down, keep fighting.”

Lopez talks suspension, no extension

Suns’ center Robin Lopez was suspended for Friday’s game at Portland for running into referee Rodney Mott during the Toronto game, and he said Thursday that it was a product of frustration.

Asked by one reporter if the Suns’ decision not to extend his contract had anything to do with the on-court frustration, Lopez shook his head and made a correction.

“No, no it wasn’t part of that,” he said. “They offered me, and I’m just going to weigh my options.”

And did he mean to run into Mott?

“No, I don’t think so. No,” Lopez replied.

Keeping their fingers off the triggers

The recent surge by center Marcin Gortat has some to do with an improved mid-range game, but it’s also a product of how teams are defending the Suns.

Nash said teams are giving the 7-footer good looks rather than allow the struggling Suns’ shooters to get opportunities to find their hot-shot offense of the past.

“He’s made a lot more shots around the edge of the key that I think has boosted his scoring average,” Nash said. “A lot of teams are forcing him to be our scorer. They’re going to stay with shooters, jump out on me on pick-and-rolls. He’s going to have to score to take advantage of how they’re playing.”

Meanwhile, Gentry still doesn’t have a grasp on why his team is struggling to make shots.

“I thought we would shoot the ball better,” he said. “I thought we would come up with easier baskets.”

Not a bad loss?

The Suns’ loss to Toronto on Tuesday looked bad. It was at home against a 4-13 team that hadn’t beaten Phoenix in eight years. The Raps were also on an eight-game losing streak.

But they beat the Suns 99-96.

While it obviously hurts Phoenix in the win-loss columns, maybe it wasn’t that embarrassing. Against a surprisingly successful Utah Jazz team last night, the Raptors came from 18 points down to defeat the Jazz at home in overtime.

“I wouldn’t point at them as a bad team,” Gentry said. “They’ve got a lot of high picks on their team and they got a player that came back who was the No. 1 pick and had a great game. Same thing happened in Utah last night.”