Interview: Suns' Stoudemire discusses improved defense, simplicity, accountability

Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire spoke with the media prior to practice Friday at the Rose Garden in Portland.

Stoudemire on whether the Suns have had a stretch this season where they have been this efficient on offense:

I don’t think so. I think, for one, over the past five or six years, or five to six times we’ve been in the playoffs, we’re playing better defensively. I think we’re really getting after it defensively. Everybody is tenacious out there. There’s no weak link on the basketball court defensively. We’re now known somewhat as a defensive team. But maybe it’s overshadowed because we score so well. But if we keep working at it and keep staying the way we have been, we’ll keep winning.

On the Blazers coming out in Game 4:

I think they’re going to play physical. They’re going to be physical out there on the court and try to frustrate us. Try to get us out of our character. I think we did a great job last night of pretty much keeping our composure. … We just have to make sure that we keep that going. Keep our heads in the game, and understand that they’re going to do whatever it takes to try to take us out of the game.

On coach Alvin Gentry’s statement that Phoenix was inspired to play better defense when Dallas’ Jason Terry said the Mavericks should be able to score at will versus the Suns:

I think we’ve been focusing on defense the whole year. Really trying to get better on the defensive end all season. I remember that comment, when Jason Terry said that, but it … wanted us to be known more as a defensive team. And we took that comment and pretty much ran with it. But for the most part, we watch film, we study the game, we understand our rotations, and as the season (went) along, we got better defensively.

On how much it helps to have the Suns’ defense simplified:

I think that’s been the most help so far this year. Alvin being able to simplify the defensive method, and everybody has their own accountability. You pretty much have to guard your guy. And if you need help, we’ll bring help. But you have to guard your guy. And that helps everybody, because for players like myself, you want that challenge; you want to be able to guard that player. So, it definitely allowed myself to become a better defensive player.

On Phoenix’s improved defense:

Previous years, I had no clue on how fun defense really is. Because we never really played it. We were such a great offensive team, that we never talked about defense. I think now, with the implements of defensive strategy, they allow us to really have fun playing defense.

On ever wondering why it didn’t happen before:

(Laughs) Well, we got it going at the right time.

On asking to guard Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge:

He’s the main threat, and he’s my position. So, I figure if I guard him and take away their main threat, we’ll be in great shape. So, I decided to guard him and did a pretty good job of it.

You still want to play smart. You don’t want to pick up early fouls. So, you play the game of basketball. But when it comes down to we’ve got to have a stop or need some stops, then that’s when the matchup switches, and I take it as a challenge upon myself to guard him and try to stop him. He’s a good player. So, it’s not easy to stop him. But I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far.

On being more aggressive:

I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I think both teams are trying to attack. Some nights are different. The last few games, we’ve been able to get to the free throw line pretty often. Staying in attack mode is something that we want to do, but we want to attack the basket. Play good offense, get to the line, get some easy baskets for us. So, the past few games, we’ve been able to do that.

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