Suns find middle a shallow place

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It's a question longtime members of the Suns franchise have been asked over ... and over ... and over again: Can this run-and-gun, all offense-no defense style of play really win a championship?"You kill me with that question," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "In five years we went to two Western Conference Finals. We have had success. It's hard to win a championship. There have been a lot of great teams that didn't win. The Stockton and Malone Utah teams, the Sacramento teams with Vlade [Divac] and Chris Webber. Sometimes it doesn't work out. To say we [can't] win a championship with the system that we play, I don't agree. [In the past] we just weren't quite good enough. It amazes me how everyone says we can't win a championship playing this way. I don't think it's the system so much as if you have great players you win a championship."

Gentry's argument is not without merit. The 1980s Lakers were one of the most explosive offensive teams in history (Showtime!), outscoring teams to four NBA championships. But those Lakers had a dominating inside presence in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. These Suns do not.

Think a superior inside player is a luxury? The 2009 Lakers (Phoenix's top competition out West) have two: Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. In the first meeting with the Lakers, L.A. lived in the paint, scoring a whopping 78 points in the colored area. They gave up only 40 points in the paint to L.A. on Sunday, but Gasol and Bynum made 57.9 percent of their shots in a 20-point blowout.

Bottom line, it's the same in any era: if you can't control the paint, you can't win.

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