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Gentry replaces sacked Porter as Suns coach

THE Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Terry Porter four months into his first season, with the club struggling to land a playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Alvin Gentry, assistant since 2004, will become interim head coach.

"I hired Terry because I believed he would be able to provide the balance our team needed in order to perform at a very high level," general manager Steve Kerr told a news conference at US Airways Center yesterday.

"Unfortunately the transition from last season to this one proved to be very difficult and we have not played to our potential. It's imperative we move forward."

The Suns are 28-23 and one game behind the Utah Jazz in the fight for the eighth and final post-season spot.

"Alvin is clearly the guy to give us the best chance for success going forward," added Kerr.

"He knows our personnel, he knows what makes us tick. I'm confident ... Alvin will do a terrific job."


Phoenix, with one of the NBA's top offenses led by double Most Valuable Player guard Steve Nash, acquired 15-times All-Star Shaquille O'Neal last year to try to move into contention for its first title.

However, despite a 55-27 record the Suns lost in the first round of the playoffs and Porter was hired after head coach Mike D'Antoni left for the New York Knicks.

Gentry said he planned to return to a running game at "breakneck pace," making the most of Nash, O'Neal and power forward Amare Stoudemire.

"We had a lot of success here playing that way and that's what we're going to try to do," Gentry said.

"We have to open up more lanes for Steve, he's the best at what he does in the business. Then we have to get Shaq and Amare and those guys involved."


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