Suns coach Gentry gets vote of confidence; report has Beasley as issue

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When the Phoenix Suns traded Steve Nash, let Grant Hill go and brought in Michael Beasley to be the designated scorer, you knew things were not going to go all that well in the Valley of the Sun this year.

But Suns fans weren’t ready for a 7-15 record with seven straight losses, and everyone is starting to point fingers.

Two things leaked out of Phoenix. One was owner Robert Sarver backing his coach, via Chris Broussard of ESPN.

The other is this tweet from the well respected Shaun Powell (who has written for NBA.com, ESPN and others).

 

Is any of this really a surprise?

We can have a discussion of if Gentry was the right guy for this job all along, but Gentry didn’t forget how to coach in past year. He took the Suns to 54 wins his first year, but as the roster aged and was depleted they became a .500 team the past couple seasons. Then they took a lot more talent away and they struggled this year. That’s not all the coach. You can bring back John Wooden and he couldn’t coach this Suns roster to the playoffs.

And you added Beasley as a go-to guy — for three years at $18 million — and you’re stunned he’s not an efficient scorer and can divide a locker room? Beasley is giving the Suns 11.4 points a game but at 38.3 percent shooting and 30.5 percent from three. He’s a gunner, it’s what he is. Sam Amick had more details at USA Today.

The nature of Beasley’s role is at the root of the problem. Despite the fact that he was added to take a leading-scorer role, there is a sentiment from some on the team that the Suns are more effective when his role is limited. Apparently coach Alvin Gentry is among those who have that opinion, as he played Beasley just 15 minutes in Sunday’s loss to Orlando that was the Suns’ eighth straight defeat.

The truly problematic part, according to a person close to the situation who spoke with USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, is that Beasley is hardly hiding his frustrations with the fact that his role isn’t what he thought it would be.

The Suns may want to trade Beasley, but the market for him is going to be rock bottom. They are going to have take back a contract or player they don’t want if they can even find someone who wants to take Beasley on.

Sorry Suns fans, but this is what rebuilding feels like. Especially when you use someone like Beasley as a patch to make it less painful, because there is no way to make it hurt less. I’m sorry Kendall Marshall is struggling (even in the D-League) and that it’s going to take time. That is the nature of it. Rebuilding is a hit and miss process, it’s not all Oklahoma City.

But you can’t throw this all at Gentry’s feet. Especially not Beasley.

John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)

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There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.

Wall is just so fast end to end.

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.

Marc Gasol game-winner tops Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance, evens Spurs/Grizzlies series 2-2

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Best. Game. Of. The. Playoffs.

So far at least.

Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.

It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.

The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.

While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.

The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.