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Pace Key To Phoenix Suns Versus Tired New Orleans Hornets

The New Orleans Hornets are the third-best defensive team in the NBA according to points allowed per 100 possessions. They played, and lost, last night in Sacramento in a close game that forced four of their starters to play over 35 minutes. The Phoenix Suns on the other hand, are rested and more so than last season depending on playing fast to win games. That all makes pace and tempo the key for tonight's matchup. 

In the game against Boston on Friday, especially early when the Suns built their big lead, the Suns were coming down the floor and taking shots early in the clock. Even when those shots aren't falling, that's how Gentry wants his team to play. 

"We're not really a half-court team so we have to play in the open court," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said at Sunday morning's shootaround.

"For us, that creates a good tempo and a good flow of the game so we can't pass on shots. That's why sometimes you'll see me getting on Channing (Frye) because he'll pass on a shot and we'll end up with a much more difficult shot than what he passed on. It's all about trying to get the flow of the game up and when we do that we usually play much better."

Gentry credited the Hornets defense this season to new coach Monty Williams who he said brought some of the San Antonio and Portland mentality with him to New Orleans. 

"They're very tough and hard-nosed. You better get out and try and spread the court and be in the open court because once we get in half court they do a great job of just locking in on you and guarding."

Chris Paul is still the key to the Hornets on both ends of the floor. Some NBA observers believe that last season's knee injury has slowed down the Western Conference All-Star team's starting point guard. Gentry wanted no part of that.

"Same guy to me. I just think he's much more efficient in what he's doing. Still a great player.  He still does a great job controlling the game. Great job of getting the ball to people and then a really, really good job of making a big shot when they need it most."

The game tips at 6 p.m. local time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and Sports 620 KTAR radio. Fans can follow along with other Suns fans at the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.