The Suns’ starting lineup changes in Monday’s getaway game in Memphis weren’t enough to salvage the 0-4 road trip, but that doesn’t mean the team is “one and done” when it comes to juggling the roster spots.
According to Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry, expect Leandro Barbosa and Robin Lopez to get the starting nod over Jason Richardson and Channing Frye again, respectively, Wednesday at home vs. the visiting Nets. Lopez racked up a career-high 19 points in 29 minutes vs. the Grizzlies in his first start of the season – his third straight double-digit scoring performance, while LB went 6-of-16 from the field en route to 14 points in 24 minutes. This season, the shooting guard is averaging just under two points a night less than his career numbers.
“We’re trying to get LB going,” said Gentry after Tuesday’s practice.” It wasn’t anything J-Rich had done. We thought that would get Leandro going, and Jason would give us a push off the bench. We just have to take a look at that and see what we can get done.
“LB has been an integral part of this team since I got here. He’s been a guy who’s been able to change games. And when he’s started, he’s had a lot of success. Look back at his record as a starter, and it’s pretty impressive. We’ve tried everything, so we decided to take a look at (lineup changes).
Gentry added that the changes are “not anything that’s permanent” and it will be on a “game-by-game basis” going forward.
“We’re not married to this for the rest of the season,” the head coach said. “It’s something that can change in a week. If we don’t feel like we’re getting it done, Jason can be right there, starting again.
“I always put myself in a player’s shoes before I talk to them. If I was Jason and my coach said that, I would be disappointed and (upset). I would never hold that against them. One of the things that make him a really good player is that he’s a competitor, and he wants to be starting. He hasn’t really done anything not to. It’s just a situation where maybe we can get LB going in this capacity. I’m sure Jason is disappointed, and I totally understand that.”
Entering Wednesday’s game with a 24-18 record after dropping four straight, it’s easy to assume heads are permanently hanging low in the Suns locker room – something that the head coach says is definitely not the case.
“I’m sure the guys are a little bit down,” Gentry said. “We had a great opportunity in Indiana and Atlanta. It hurts, but not to the extent where we’re going to feel sorry for ourselves. We’re a happy team. We have fun when we play. We can’t have long faces. It doesn’t benefit anybody.
“At the end of the day, we’re still six games over .500, and we’re still right in the race. Our goal is to make the playoffs, and we’re still in a position to do that.”