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Marcin Gortat Rips Suns Defense After Disappointing Loss to Sixers

Dec 30, 2010 – 3:30 AM
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Brett Pollakoff

Brett Pollakoff %BloggerTitle%

PHOENIX -- Frustrations reached a boiling point for the Phoenix Suns both during and after Wednesday's dreadful 123-110 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers over their inability to play defense.

Philadelphia ranks just 22nd in the league in offensive efficiency and 23rd in the league in points per game, averaging just 95.6 per contest. But the Sixers put up 123 on the Suns by shooting a gaudy 54.9 percent from the field and getting to the free-throw line 35 times to Phoenix's 17.

There were plenty of questionable calls that didn't go the Suns' way, including an out-of-bounds call late in the fourth quarter that went to the Sixers -- one that Steve Nash was certain should have gone in his team's favor. For a few brief moments, Nash completely lost it, picking up a technical foul for demonstratively arguing with the official who made the call. Nash continued to protest after he was whistled for the technical, and seemed as though he was trying to get the second one called so he could take an early shower.

Two sources sitting close enough to hear Nash's comments independently confirmed the statement he made to Alvin Gentry but was clearly directed at the official: "I'm going to f*****g punch one of these motherf*****s in the face."

Yes, it was that kind of night for the Suns -- and the frustration continued in the locker room afterward. Gentry's post-game press conference with reporters was delayed for an extended period while the locker room remained closed, presumably for the team to discuss its woeful lack of execution on the defensive end of the floor.

One of the newest members of the team, Marcin Gortat, was incredulous at his new team's abysmal defensive effort, but thankfully, he wasn't speechless. The backup big man had plenty to say about what went wrong, and how much hard work it's going to take for the team to fix all its problems.

"I came from a team where everybody's competing and trying to do the stuff that coach is saying. We're just totally changing our rotations, changing our stuff that we set before the game. We're not playing hard enough ... The positive thing is? It can't be worse."
- Marcin Gortat on the Suns defense
"It's just a little bit frustrating when you come in the locker room and people are talking about the offense," Gortat began. "That's not the way you're going to win NBA games. I don't know if it's just me, or maybe I'm just different, but I came from a team where everybody's competing and trying to do the stuff that coach is saying. We're just totally changing our rotations, changing our stuff that we set before the game. We're not playing hard enough and I've just got to tell you, there's a lot, a lot of work in front of us. The positive thing is? It can't be worse."

Gentry said the Suns are working hard in practice, but for whatever reason that hard work isn't translating into that effort being there in game situations. But we'll stick with Gortat, as he seemed to give the most honest and straightforward assessment of the team's defensive struggles.

"I just think we have to be at the gym every day for three hours," Gortat continued. "Learn the rotations, learn everything from the beginning. I mean, there are so many things we're doing bad, I just can't find an explanation. I'm trying to get some rebounds and stops, but unfortunately there's not too many opportunities for me to rebound because the team is scoring 120-something points.

"It's just frustrating; frustrating as hell. I'm not going to lie."

Gortat played in Orlando the last four seasons, on a Magic team that was elite for the last three. He knows what it takes to reach that level, and it's been quite an adjustment for him coming to a team that's near the bottom of the league defensively.

"It's kind of a reality check for me, being on a team who is winning then all of a sudden coming to a team which is losing," Gortat said. "I mean, we are the worst defensive team in the league. I don't know; we've just got to come tomorrow as early as possible and just put in work -- three hours at least."

Gortat then preached the importance of work ethic as he continued to break down how he's seen his new team approach things during his brief time in Phoenix.

"I think we've just got to be more serious about everything that we do," Gortat said. "We've got a lot of young guys on the team. A lot of potential, but a lot of young guys who don't know how it is to be on top and play at a high level. It's not only focus on the game, it's also focus on the practice. When you come through that door, that's the time to lock in and get ready for the game or practice. It can't happen where you're coming in and doing different things. We've got to read the scouting report, which guy likes to do what, and we've just got to learn it.

"There's a lot of work in front of us, I'm telling you guys. A lot of work. With Philly scoring 120 points, I don't want to see teams like Boston, Orlando, San Antonio ... because it's going to be bad."

As Gortat mentioned, things are already bad. And defensively, they seemingly can't get too much worse for the Suns.
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