Even when they were perennial contenders, the Phoenix Suns were never known for their defense. Mike D'Antoni's teams flew by the seat of their pants, with point guard Steve Nash running and gunning teams out of the gym. With both having moved on from the Suns, head coach Alvin Gentry has looked to his second unit for defensive intensity. Guard Sebastian Telfair and small forward P.J. Tucker have embraced a defensive mindset, and wreak havoc on the perimeter with their play.
Telfair, 27, was drafted 13th overall out of high school by the Portland Trail Blazers as an undersized scoring machine. But his failure to live up to his potential on offense meant "Bassy" was looking for a way to stay in the NBA. Harvey, also 27, has played basketball on three continents and last played in the NBA for the Raptors in 2007. The journey of both men has led them to believe that defense is their ticket to staying in the league.
"With how I play and how he plays, you can't do anything but take your game up another level as far as intensity and energy and making it tough for people," said Tucker.
While Tucker and Telfair look to ramp up the entire defense, the numbers haven't been in Phoenix's favor this season. The Suns are 25th in the league in points allowed per game, and only Portland and Cleveland have given up a higher shooting percentage.