Interview: Suns' Nash on Stoudemire, defense, value of a college education

Phoenix Suns Steve Nash spoke with the media prior to practice Friday at the Rose Garden in Portland.

Nash on where leadership is coming from:

I think there’s been leadership from a lot of players this season. But I ultimately give the credit to the coaches. We play so many games that you’ve got to give the coaches credit for keeping us focused, keeping us accountable, making sure we know what our roles are. Having a good plan to start with; making adjustments to that plan when necessary. But overall, creating an environment where everyone understands and everyone can play together and be successful defensively. We’ve had good leadership from different guys. But more than that, I think the coaches have done a fantastic job.

On things becoming more simple:

Things are simple enough that everyone understands. Everyone understands their roles, their rotations, their accountability. They stayed on us. You’re told when you do something wrong, and you’re expected to do it right the next time. I think it’s made our team into a pretty good defensive team.

On watching Amare Stoudemire evolve as a defensive player:

He’s done great. Him and Channing (Frye) both. It’s a tough matchup for them. LaMarcus (Aldridge) is athletic, taller than Amare, in particular. Amare’s done a great job, just battling him and playing hard; staying focused, just being in the right spots in rotation so they can recover. I’m proud of him. And he’s continuing to evolve and improve as a player.

On comparing past to present:

Our teams in the past, I thought, could have won at times, regardless of where our defense was. We had a lot of bad breaks. We had suspensions, we had injuries. And without some of those breaks, we could have won a championship, I think. We could have proven all of that talk wrong. But obviously, the safe path to a bright future is a college education or defense. So, hopefully our defense has improved a little bit this year.

On coach Gentry’s comment that a statement by Dallas’ Jason Terry inspired the Suns to improve their defense:

That was the part of the season where we had struggled for two months. I think our defense wasn’t good. But we also just didn’t make any shots. I think with this group, it deflates us sometimes. I think that’s one reason that our depth is so important, because we can throw other guys on the court who are capable, who can play both ends of the floor — that can lift our spirits. So, in a way, we have more than bet on the table. We can get a response from different units and different players. I think that was a point in the season where, obviously in particular in that second half, where we played well. But from that point out, we played a lot better.

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