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Suns willing to show their ‘feminine’ side on defense

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PHOENIX — The chief topic at the Phoenix Suns’ practice Monday was the zone defense they used to stymie the Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

The Suns also found out that All-Star guard Steve Nash has a broken nose, though Nash still plans on playing in Game 4 Tuesday at US Airways Center. He practiced Monday morning before he had a procedure to repair his broken nose and displaced cartilage that he suffered in Game 3.

Still, there was so much talk about the Suns’ 2-3 zone defense that Coach Alvin Gentry couldn’t help but laugh when he relayed a story about how someone in the media described it.

“I said if we have to play our ‘girly zone,’ we will,” Gentry said, chuckling.

That defense was effective enough to help the Suns earn a victory and cut their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. The Lakers failed to attack the zone and instead launched 32 three-point attempts, a franchise playoff record, making just nine.

The Suns played zone defense from the second quarter on, and Gentry was surprised by how well his team rebounded. The Suns were outrebounded by only 41-40, and gave up just nine offensive rebounds.

“We know that the [Lakers] will make an adjustment,” Gentry said. “We know that they’ll be ready. What we have to do is we have to be able to mix up our defenses. We know that and they know that we’ll try to do that too.”

Is it possible that the Suns won’t play a zone Tuesday?

“We won’t play zone if they won’t throw it to Kobe [Bryant],” Gentry joked.

The Suns had worked on the zone defense Saturday during practice and it didn’t go well. Grant Hill said it was “the worst it was all year” because the Suns’ starters couldn’t stop the second unit from scoring.

Then it worked against the Lakers.

“I think the more it worked the more confident we got,” Hill said. “We know they are going to make adjustments. We know that they are going to dissect it.

“It’s not going to be as easy, so we’ve made a few adjustments. We’ve looked at a few things that didn’t work, things that we need to clean up a little bit better. So, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed and hope it works again.”

Hard-headed

Nash said he thinks he broke his nose when he bumped heads with Shannon Brown in the second half of Game 3.

Nash said he won’t wear a mask in Game 4.

“I’m lucky,” Nash said. ‘I’ve had a couple of bumps and bruises that haven’t affected my play. Those don’t bother me. It’s the ones that limit you that you hope you don’t have to face.”

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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