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Suns smirk at Jackson's 'traveling' accusation

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns have reacted with a collective smirk to Phil Jackson's suggestion that Steve Nash travels with the basketball.

Nash even had a subtle retort worthy of Jackson himself.

"It's news to me. I'm fortunate. I don't know if I've been called for a carry yet," he said after the Suns practiced Saturday, then he added straight-faced: "I've never heard anyone accuse me of carrying it. I mean, the best coach in the league Gregg Popovich (of San Antonio) didn't have a problem with it last week."

Get it? Popovich the best coach in the league?

"We have the best officials in the world," Nash continued. "I'll just leave it up to them."

Jackson had grinned when asked on Friday if it's tough for the Lakers to prepare to face Nash, the reigning NBA skills champion, because of the Suns guard's frenetic style.

"Yeah, because you can't carry the ball like he does in practice," Jackson said, making a gesture of palming the basketball. "You can't pick that ball up and run with it."

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry laughed off the accusation.

"You guys got to admire Phil," Gentry said. "C'mon, the stuff that he throws out there, I mean I think it's great. He's very creative. There's a reason. But I think you've got to understand that there's kind of a method to his madness. If you let it affect you, then it will."

Gentry went on to praise Jackson for his ability to create championship chemistry on teams with great players, calling it "probably the toughest thing in the NBA to do."

He said the Suns weren't going to get drawn into what they consider Jackson's psychological ploy.

"How can we win that?" Gentry said. "We're not going to win that battle anyway."

But the Phoenix coach added a jab at the Lakers when he was asked jokingly if the team worked on ball handling skills.

"We spent the day ducking elbows on post-ups, to see if we could duck elbows on post-ups, " Gentry said, a not-to-thinly veiled nod to the Lakers' style. "So it all works out, it all works out."

Amare Stoudemire probably spoke for the rest of the team with his reaction.

"Typical Phil," he said.