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Rebounding Focus Pays Off for the Suns

Oct 29, 2009 – 10:45 AM
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Brett Pollakoff

Brett Pollakoff %BloggerTitle%

LOS ANGELES -- Rebounding is all that Suns' head coach Alvin Gentry has been talking about during the preseason, and with his team being an undersized bunch who would rather try to run you off the floor than stand toe-to-toe and slug it out, that's completely understandable.

But the emphasis on taking care of the boards had its consequences in the team's season opener on Wednesday, as Phoenix -- yes, the extended remix of the Seven Seconds or Less Suns -- managed just two fast break points in their game against the Clippers.

The ultimate result, however, was a positive one. The Suns' focus on rebounding enabled them to hang with a big and talented Clippers' front line, and pull out a hard-fought, last-second 109-107 road victory in Los Angeles.

"We've got to get out and run more," Gentry said, when discussing his team's lack of points in transition. "We get so conscious right now of trying to guard the boards, you know, the offensive boards -- which I thought we did a good job on -- that sometimes it limits us a little bit as far as getting out on the break.

"We still got 109 points, even though we didn't get any fast break points. And really, some of the things they don't call fast break points .. if we come down and we run a drag, and we get a wide open three-pointer, we consider that a fast break point. So it's really a little bit distorted, but they did do a good job as far as getting back and keeping us from running."

Phoenix held a 22-15 rebounding advantage at the half, thanks to seven from Grant Hill, and five each from Jared Dudley and Earl Clark off the bench. They finished the game with just one more board than L.A., but the fact that they were able to compete at all with guys like Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman down there shows how serious the team is about making the glass work a top priority.

"It's never really easy to rebound against those guys, they're seven-footers," Amar'e Stoudemire said afterwards. "Both guys are great rebounders out there. But I think from a team effort we did a great job, really attacked the boards, really boxed out well. Me and [Channing Frye] were trying to keep the big guys off the boards, and Grant was coming in and getting the rebounds, so from a team standpoint we did a pretty good job."

Stoudemire and Frye combined to grab just nine rebounds, while the aforementioned Clippers' duo came away with a combined 20. But as Amar'e mentioned, as long as someone like Grant Hill can swoop in when he's doing the blocking out, things will turn out okay. Even if the fast break opportunities might not be there because of it.

Hill finished with a team-leading 13 rebounds, which is a huge number for him.

"The year we won 62 games we got out-rebounded on the offensive boards 55 times," Gentry pointed out. "But for this team to be successful, we've got to find a way to rebound the basketball."

The Suns did that on opening night, against a Clippers team that -- at least going in -- appeared to have a significant advantage.
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