PHOENIX — Goran Dragic will miss tonight’s game with a sprained right ankle, and with Leandro Barbosa already out that means Steve Nash will be the team’s only option at the point guard spot.
“We pay Nash a lot of money, he can go 48 minutes,” head coach Alvin Gentry joked.
In all seriousness that means Grant Hill and Jared Dudley — yes, seriously, Jared Dudley — will be leading the offense for whatever slim minutes Nash sits tonight.
The Suns will likely sit Dragic on Saturday as well to give him a full week to recover before next Friday’s showdown against the Lakers. Gentry said Dragic’s ankle is a lot better than the Suns thought it would be today, but just not good enough to play.
“Somewhere along the line we have to play Steve a lot of extra minutes, or we have to ask somebody like Grant or JD to do that, which they’re not accustomed to doing,” Gentry said.
Gentry has seen Hill man the position before back when he coached the Suns’ forward in Detroit.
“He played that position forever in Detroit,” Gentry said. “He was our point forward when I was in Detroit, but first of all we’re asking him to do something, then we’re asking him to do it on the second game of a back to back where we got in at 2 in the morning, and that’s really getting to be a little unfair — a lot unfair, but if anybody can do it he’ll do it, and he’ll embrace it and try to do the best job that he can.”
Gentry said he plans on playing Hill and Dudley together when Nash sits and having the guy not guarded by Deron Williams or Ronnie Price bring the ball up.
LB making progress
Leandro Barbosa has yet to scrimmage with his teammates, but he’s doing everything else on the basketball court, as he is dribbling, shooting and doing cardio. Barbosa said his surgically repaired wrist “feels better” although it’s still a little stiff.
He hopes to return to practice next week and possibly play as early as Friday against the Lakers, but the Suns aren’t putting any timetable on his return.
“Whenever I feel comfortable,” Barbosa said of when he will come back. “I want to make sure everything’s OK to come back the first time.”
Added Gentry, “He’s getting better, it’s just one of those things. It’s on his shooting hand, and until he can step out and consistently shoot the ball then I don’t see him being active.”
The Suns, who will be at home through a March 21 game against Portland, start a seven-game homestand tonight. They have not stayed at home that long since hosting a seven-gamer March10-23, 1993. Yes, 1993, the last time the Suns reached the Finals. … Amare Stoudemire has scored 30 points six times in his last 15 games, including last night, when he went for 30 and 14 without playing the fourth. Amare is averaging 30 and 12 in his last three games. … After hitting a career-high seven long balls last night, Channing Frye is the only NBA player to hit six or more treys at least five times. … With a win tonight, the Suns will become the first non-division leader to reach 40 wins. … The Suns are 7-1 at home against Dallas, Denver, the Lakers, San Antonio and Utah since Alvin Gentry took over as head coach.