Suns head coach Gentry cares not for your three-point field goal defensive statistics

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The Phoenix Suns, just like most teams in the league, pay a fair amount of attention to all kinds of statistical data. And, just like most teams in the league, they have their favorites. It’s safe to say that three-point field goal defensive statistics are not one of them.

Before Friday night’s win over the Trail Blazers, it was pointed out to Suns head coach Alvin Gentry that Portland was among the league’s best at defending the three-point shot — an area where the Suns have struggled mightily so far this season, despite taking a high number of attempts from distance. So, the question was this: Would Phoenix try to do anything differently in that area given Portland’s defensive success?

Not exactly. And Gentry was completely dismissive of the statistic while giving his response.

“I don’t buy into that,” Gentry said of a given team’s supposedly strong defensive numbers against the three-point shot. “I think that’s the worst stat in the NBA, defending the three. I think teams either shoot it well against you or they don’t. You know, most of the three-point shots that are taken are open shots; people are usually not forcing three-point shots.”

For the record, the Suns haven’t faced Kobe Bryant and the Lakers yet this season, but you get the idea.

“Maybe they close out better or they do a good job of running you off, I don’t know,” Gentry said. “It’s just not a stat I think is relevant at all, I really don’t.”

Now, Gentry’s comment on this particular stat isn’t at all indicative of the way his team approaches statistical data in general. Phoenix considers publicly available information like defensive field goal percentage allowed valuable, and went so far as to place boards in the locker room last season which tracked those numbers league-wide for his players to see on a daily basis.

This year, Gentry and new assistant coach Elston Turner have talked about the difference between dead-ball and live-ball turnovers, and the importance of making sure his team is making a conscious effort to cut down on the latter. And, the team tracks its own internal numbers in a variety of areas to provide data to back up the coaching staff’s chosen points of emphasis.

The three-point defensive statistic, however, is not one of them.

It’s easy to see why Portland currently leads the league in defensive three-point field goal percentage allowed at .254. They have a seemingly endless number of long, athletic guys who, by merely getting a hand up in the vicinity of a long-range shooter, would seemingly be able to alter that shot.

But looking at the teams that rank third and fourth in the same category — Milwaukee and Sacramento respectively, who combined have just 5 wins in 14 games on the season — it becomes a little bit murkier to see the correlation.

In case you were wondering, Gentry isn’t simply being a “hater” here. Phoenix is better than average in this regard, currently sitting at eighth in the league by holding teams to a .299 shooting percentage from behind the three-point arc.

We’re early in the season, and still in the area of extremely small sample size when trying to measure the validity of certain statistical information. What is clear, though, is that the Suns won’t be altering their approach based on another team’s statistical success in defending the long-range shot.

In fact, Gentry was so cavalier in discussing the topic that he jokingly equated it to the statistical data surrounding the “defense” of an opponent’s free throw attempts.

“I think teams shot worse against us from the foul line last year; I think we were in the top five,” Gentry said. “I don’t know that we did a whole lot to defend the free throw line.”

Pat Riley: Friend talked me out of going Dan Gilbert when LeBron James left

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When LeBron James left Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released his infamous letter.

When LeBron left Miami, Heat president Pat Riley issued a classy statement.

The difference was nearly not as stark following Riley’s final meeting with LeBron in 2014 in Las Vegas.

Wright Thompson of ESPN:

Riley told his lieutenant, Andy Elisburg, to get the two championship trophies LeBron had won and pack them in their hard-shell carrying cases. Elisburg also brought charts and an easel for a presentation about the free agents the Heat would pursue. The day of the meeting, a hotel bellhop followed them with a luggage cart carrying the presentation and the two trophies. Riley brought wine from a Napa vineyard named Promise. It was the same label Maverick Carter had presented Riley with when they did the deal four years earlier. Riley respects Carter, and when he walked into the suite and saw James with agent Rich Paul and friend Randy Mims but no Maverick, part of him knew the meeting wasn’t sincere. He told Elisburg to keep the trophies and easel in the hall. James and his associates were watching a World Cup game, which they kept glancing at during the presentation. At one point, Riley asked if they’d mute the TV.

Riley flew home worried and got a text telling him to be ready for a call. About 15 minutes later, his phone rang and Paul was on the other end. The agent handed the phone to LeBron, who started by saying, “I want to thank you for four years …”

“I was silent,” Riley says. “I didn’t say anything. My mind began to just go. And it was over. I was very angry when LeBron left. It was personal for me. It just was. I had a very good friend who talked me off the ledge and kept me from going out there and saying something like Dan Gilbert. I’m glad I didn’t do it.”

The most shocking element of Gilbert’s letter wasn’t that he wrote it. People say dumb things, especially in the heat of the moment. But it was surprising nobody stopped Gilbert from publishing it. Of course, he runs the franchise. But nobody felt empowered to tell him it was a bad idea?

Riley was obviously fortunate to get that message and wise to heed it. But even he has let his disdain for LeBron leaving slip out a couple times.

John Wall doesn’t sound super enthused about Dennis Schroder’s summer-workout request

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The Wizards and Hawks are knotted in a 2-2 first-round series.

A subplot: John Wall vs. Dennis Schroder. They have a history – Schroder starting random trash talk and then telling a teammate to hack Wall’s recently injured wrist, according to Wall – and Wall stared down Schroder after a dunk in Game 2.

A sub-subplot: Wall’s and Schroder’s summer plans.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Wall, via Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“I’ve never heard of that going on in the middle of a series,” Wall said Monday after shootaround for Game 4 later tonight at Phillips Arena. “I’m not talking about it right now. I’m locked into a series competing with a guy that’s playing well for his team, competing for his team. That’s probably a conversation I’ll have later on, but I’m locked into Wizards versus Hawks.”

Aside from that, Wall tends to be a loner during the summer when he’s getting ready. He was supposed to work out with Damian Lillard a few seasons ago, but even that didn’t come to fruition. Teammate Brandon Jennings sensed that about Wall.

“I really don’t work out with anybody, to be honest,” Wall said. “Brandon said the same thing, ‘You’re the type of guy that don’t like to work out with people.’ I just always worked out by myself a lot.”

Maybe Schroder thinks Wall will see himself in the Atlanta point guard – a fearless young player trying to prove himself by standing up to established players. And maybe Wall does.

But I suspect Wall just sees Schroder as a pest.

If that’s the case, it certainly won’t change until this series ends.

Marcus Smart responds to Jimmy Butler: ‘It ain’t hard to find me’ (video)

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Jimmy Butler said Marcus Smart is “not about that life.”

Smart, via MassLive:

Laugh at that. This about the Celtics versus Chicago Bulls, not Marcus Smart versus Jimmy. I ain’t got to sit here and say this and that. I’m this. I’m that. I ain’t that type of guy. My actions speak louder than words. It ain’t hard to find me. But, right now, I’m focused on my teammates and this series.

That led to a few excellent follow-up questions:

Are you about that life?

Like I said before, I ain’t got to talk about what I am about. I just show you. I can show you, but I’m not going to tell you. Like I said, it ain’t hard to find me. You heard him. He said, “I don’t think Marcus Smart is about that life.” Last time I checked, if you’re going to say somebody ain’t about that life, you should know, right? But like I said, we’re going to keep this Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics, not Marcus vs. Jimmy.

Has anyone accused you not being tough before?

Never.

What was your reaction to that?

Haha.

Smart flops too much. He gets overly emotional.

But he’s way too tough to let Butler’s comments pass without rebuttal.

The real test will come on the court in Game 5 tomorrow.

Damian Lillard ‘obsessed’ with beating Warriors

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The Warriors just eliminated the Trail Blazers for the second straight year.

Portland star Damian Lillard sounds hardened by the experience.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

After the Portland Trail Blazers were swept by the Golden State Warriors on Monday, point guard Damian Lillard told ESPN he’s developed a newfound obsession with trying to take down the Warriors.

“You have to be obsessed with that because you know that they’re so good that they’re going to be there,” Lillard said after a 128-103 loss in Game 4. “That’s who you’re going to have to get through to get to where you want to get to. That’s what it is.”

I have no doubt this will drive Lillard. He just finds way to lift himself.

But will the rest of the Trail Blazers keep up with a team that features Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson?

C.J. McCollum is a solid co-star, but it gets dicey beyond that with several players locked into expensive long-term contracts. Portland will have to pry enough production from Jusuf Nurkic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard and the Nos. 15, 20 and 26 picks in the upcoming draft.

The Trail Blazers have a path upward, but needing to climb as high as Golden State, the road is narrow.