3-point tries down from last season
Jones, Bell are in top 15 in accuracy
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 16, 2005 12:00 AM
Detroit came in shooting the three-pointer better. Golden State arrived shooting it more often. Memphis visits tonight as another team with better three-point accuracy than Phoenix, which made an NBA-record 796 threes last season.
The three-point shot never solely defined the Suns last season, but it was symbolic of their quick-strike ability. Phoenix has taken 4.3 more shots per game this season, but 4.4 fewer threes per game.
Steve Nash (6 for 21) and Shawn Marion (0 for 10) have not found a long-distance rhythm without Amaré Stoudemire attracting defenders. Jim Jackson (3 for 11) fell out of the rotation.
There is a new team to feel out, but the new shooters have adjusted. James Jones (.500) and Raja Bell (.474) both entered Tuesday in the NBA's top 15 for three-point shooting.
Jones has been the team's most consistent shooter even after he moved out of the starting lineup the past two games. He has the most tries (30) of any top-15 shooter but has taken about three fewer per game than he did in preseason.
"It's about fitting in and trying to help the team win," Jones said. "Coach (Mike D'Antoni) wants me to shoot the ball and he expects me to make a lot of shots. Nothing's going to change (as a reserve)."
Bell took more threes (10) in the past two games than he did in the first four (nine). He hit his first five jumpers Saturday, including three three-pointers.
"I shoot when I'm open," Bell said. "I've never been a guy who forces too many shots."
D'Antoni said the offense is not designed for the Suns to take threes. It is set up for Nash to find the defense's weakness against five scorers.
"The ball seeks out the least resistance," D'Antoni said.
The Suns had two of their more spirited practices Monday and Tuesday, complete with chirping on calls. It is a byproduct of better depth with a second unit in white jerseys pushing the starters in orange.
Tuesday's session ended with Eddie House hurling his jersey at a wall and Kurt Thomas getting stitches.
"They (the coaches) are cheating the white," Jones said. "Giving the orange all the calls and trying to make it hard. It wasn't as bad (when I was on orange). I think since they sent me to white, now they're starting to put it on us.
"It's great. This is really competitive, and it pays off. The last couple weeks, we've kicked it up a notch, and it's starting to correlate in games."
D'Antoni will keep the same starters as on Saturday, when Leandro Barbosa made his first start. "LB gives us that speed we need when Amare's not here," D'Antoni said.
• D'Antoni said he wants to play Pat Burke but will keep to an eight- or nine-man rotation. He said Jackson also deserves to play but can't be squeezed in.
• Phoenix entered Tuesday ranked last in rebounds and rebounding percentage.
• Bell bruised a metacarpal bone on his right hand last month and has experienced flare-ups recently. He taped the hand for practices.