Two preseason games, two losses for the Phoenix Suns. So coach Alvin Gentry had plenty of things to emphasize in Friday's practice at the U.S. Airways Center.
The Suns lost to Sacramento by 14 on Tuesday and to Toronto by 51 points on Wednesday in an ejection-and-turnover-fest. Forward Grant Hill didn't seem to be too worried, though, slapping backsides in jest after being ejected for that very offense on Wednesday.
"They (the league and officials) want to clean up the cosmetics of the game," Gentry said. "Cosmetically, they think it looks terrible the way everybody whines and complains, so they don't want that anymore, and I don't think anyone else does. So you have to make an adjustment to that and understand that if you do, you're not going to be in the game."
Gentry wouldn't comment on the booty-slapping. He joked with reporters about missing "a hell of a game."
"We rallied the last two minutes to cut it to 51," Gentry said.
Gentry lamented his team's 32 turnovers.
"We know what we have to clean up, and we've got to be better in our execution and then we've got to be better defensively. Obviously, rebounding the basketball. Those things, they're a combination of things. We have to correct all those at once."
Meanwhile, guard Jason Richardson did not practice, staying loose by running and riding a stationary bike. Richardson has a shoulder bruise that limited him Wednesday, and Gentry all but said Richardson won't play in the team's next game Saturday.
"It's doing good. Just got a limited range of motion," Richardson said. He added that he sat out Friday as a precaution and that he expects to be out a few days, but is feeling better every day.
The Suns are off to the Palm Springs area for tomorrow night's game against the Dallas Mavericks under the stars. The nationally-televised (TNT) 6:30 p.m. game will take place outdoors at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"It's actually kind of fun. It brings you back to those days as a kid playing in the park," Richardson said.
"I really don't see the difference. The way the seats are and the way everything is situated, to me, unless you look up and see the moon, it still feels like you're in an arena," Gentry said. "Last year, I thought it was just a basketball game in an arena that just so happened to not have a roof on it ... It was great, the weather was good."
Gentry would like to see the players he figures will be in the playing rotation get more minutes, starting Saturday. He wants to see different combinations on the floor with Hill and Steve Nash.
The Suns continue to show interest in big man Erick Dampier, who reportedly was in Phoenix Thursday and Friday to meet with club officials.
"It's just a process," Gentry said, refreshingly stopping his train of thought with the realization that he was feeding the media the standard line. "Obviously, he's evaluating us and some other things, and at some point in the near future, I'm sure I think he'll make a decision."
"When you look at a team like the Lakers and they run (Andrew) Bynum and Pau (Gasol) and Lamar (Odom) and a bunch of seven-foot guys, and they added Theo Ratliff, I just think you can't ever have too much size on a team," Gentry said.