It is no secret that Steve Nash abuses opposing defenses on the regular, but Captain Canada’s 11-0 record against Toronto since returning to Phoenix coming into today’s game was flat-out ridiculous.
Well, the Suns kicked that Toronto domination up a notch today as they once again defeated Chris Bosh and the Raptors, 113-94.
The Suns haven’t lost to the Raptors since Feb. 10, 2004, and one of the only constants during that stretch is none other than MVSteve.
“I wouldn’t trade (Nash) for any guard in the league,” Alvin Gentry told The Associated Press after the game. “The way we play and what we want to do, he’s my guy.”
Nash proved once again why he should be in consideration for his third MVP, as he helped Phoenix defeat the Raptors for the 12th consecutive time.
Nash and the Suns came out of the gates strong, hitting five of their first eight from beyond the arc and outscoring the Raptors 33-25 through 12 minutes of action.
Jay Triano’s squad continuously switched on Phoenix pick-and-rolls and Nash made them pay with a plethora of dimes to Amare Stoudemire, resulting in nine first-half helpers.
Toronto clamped down in the second quarter, holding the Suns to their lowest-scoring period of the season (17 points). With STAT on the bench in foul trouble and the Suns’ offense struggling, Chris Bosh went into beast mode. The lanky lefty dominated the period, scoring 16 points in the second quarter alone. The Suns had no answer for one of 2010′s most intriguing free agents, who finished the game with 30 points and 17 rebounds.
Thanks to Bosh, the Raptors were only down one going into the second half, but a Suns 28-12 run during the first seven minutes of the third quarter took the air out of the Air Canada Centre.
While Nash was unable to get his offense going in the first half — hitting just one of his first six — he scored 11 points in the third and helped give the Suns a 19-point lead with under four minutes remaining in the quarter.
But Bosh and the Raptors fought back, scoring eight straight points and eventually cutting the Suns’ lead to five with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter. The Suns then answered with a 19-7 run of their own, and Toronto was ultimately unable to claw its way back into the game.
While Nash’s 20 points and 16 assists made this offense go, the other Suns starters filled in the cracks with ease. For the fourth time in the last five games the Suns had six or more players in double figures. J-Rich led the way for the Suns with 22 points — including 4-of-6 from three — to go along with nine caroms. Richardson has now scored 20 or more in his last three games.
Stoudemire was equally as impressive, posting an efficient 18 points and seven rebounds on 8-for-10 shooting. STAT was a non-factor during the second and third quarters but really did some damage late in the fourth when the Suns needed it most.
The Suns became the NBA’s first team to 14 wins today and have proven that their hot start is far from a mirage after matching their franchise-best start through 17 games. This is the most well-balanced Suns team that Phoenix has seen in quite some time, and that offensive attack is paying off in a big way.
To be fair, the Raptors have lost seven of their last 10 games and clearly do not have an answer for the Nash-led Suns. And if anyone not named Bosh would have stepped up for Toronto, this would probably have been a much closer ballgame.
The Raptors came into the game shooting 40.1 percent from three — good for seventh in the league — but they couldn’t get anything to go from distance, finishing the game 1-for-20 (5 percent) from behind the arc. While that most likely won’t happen again this season for Toronto, you have to give some credit to the Suns’ defense.
They did a solid job of running out and getting a hand up, especially for a team that had been allowing opponents to shoot 38.4 percent from three, fourth worst in the NBA. As Gentry has said all season, this team doesn’t need to be one of the league’s best defensive teams, Phoenix just needs to get the stops necessary to win games, and the Suns did exactly that today.
With the offensive pieces the Suns have in place, it is hard to believe that many teams will slow down this offense. Whenever an opposing defense shuts down a Nash and Amare pick-and-roll, J-Rich or Channing Frye will be wide open for a three. When the defense starts to come out and guard the three-point arc, Nash will dissect the defense and feed a hungry Stoudemire or a slashing Hill.
This team simply has too many weapons to be stifled for 48 minutes of basketball. The starters plus LB combined for 102 of the Suns 113 total points today, but even when the starters struggle, the Suns have proven they have the pieces on the bench to step up and fill the void.
The Suns are the only team to post at least 100 points in every game so far this season, and with so many weapons and such a balanced attack, this offense should remain lethal all year long.
- Leandro Barbosa sprained his left ankle coming down on Hedo Turkoglu’s foot after releasing a jump shot early in the fourth quarter and will miss at least two games, according to The Arizona Republic. X-rays were negative, but LB estimated this injury could keep him out for as long as two weeks (which would be seven games). Up to that point he was extremely efficient, scoring 17 points in only 15 minutes of play. Suns announcer Scott Williams described LB’s swelling as looking like “elephantitis of the ankle.” Not exactly what Suns fans want to hear.
- Steve Nash is now averaging a career-best and league-best 12.1 assists per game.
- The Suns outrebounded the Raptors 48-44.
- The Suns are now on their third four-game winning streak of the season.
- After a solid performance against Minnesota, Robin Lopez showed a ton of rust with four turnovers in only six minutes. He looked slow, immobile and never really had a chance to get into the flow of the game.
Jared Dudley checks in with some more locker room footage in the latest edition of JMZ.