Suns free throw% is down
Suns practice ended Sunday with plenty of rim shots, but nobody laughed.
Each of the 13 Suns players took his turn at the free-throw line. Miss, and the team ran a wind sprint up and down the length of the floor. Make the shot, and it moved to the next player.
Each good free-throw shooter made his shot, except Leandro Barbosa. That was a bad thing for any Suns looking for early dismissal, because most don't qualify as good free-throw shooters. Only six have made two-thirds of their free throws this season.
Seven Suns missed, an example of a team that leads the NBA in field-goal percentage (50.0) but was 26th in free-throw percentage (74.5) entering Sunday. The Suns led in free-throw shooting accuracy in 2005-06 and 2006-07 and slipped only to fourth last year when Shaquille O'Neal arrived.
"So we've got some work to do," Suns coach Terry Porter said.
Free throws can be a plus for the Suns, too. They have the third-best free-throw shooter in NBA history in Steve Nash, who has a career-best 93.9 percent after making his past 29 tries. Amaré Stoudemire is at a career-best 82.6 percent. O'Neal is hitting more than 60 percent for the first time in six years.
Phoenix is on pace for its most free-throw attempts since Charles Barkley's last Suns season in 1995-96.
"A lot of that has to do with Shaq and guys fouling him," Porter said. "We're able to get two or three fouls earlier and, before you know it, we're into the foul penalty early. I like that."
The drag on the team's numbers comes from O'Neal (60.4 percent), Matt Barnes (64.9), Robin Lopez (60.7) and Louis Amundson (48.6).