Preview: Phoenix Suns (33-31) at Houston Rockets (33-34)

Houston Rockets 95, Phoenix Suns 93



PHOENIX — Alvin Gentry insists he won’t rush Steve Nash back just because the Suns’ opponents on their upcoming two-game road trip are also in the mix for the final playoff spots in the West, saying that every game is critical this time of year regardless of opponent.

In that vein Nash termed himself “50-50 or even doubtful” for Monday’s game against the Rockets but if nothing else he expects to suit up Wednesday when the Suns visit the Hornets.

If Nash can’t go Aaron Brooks will be back in a familiar place, starting at the point guard spot in the Toyota Center in Houston.

Brooks has had his moments, such as his 19-point first half explosion yesterday against the Magic and his 14-point second half against Boston, yet his inconsistent time and lack of camaraderie with his teammates have prevented him from being the scoring dynamite he was last year in Houston.

There are times Brooks looks like he’s going out of his way to distribute to the detriment of his own offense and other times his gunning leaves teammates standing around.

“I’m still feeling it out,” Brooks said. “Finding out everybody, where they want the ball at, different spots, trying to figure out the offense; trying to watch Steve, see what he does and implement that, since this offense has been so successful. You pick up things here and there, but you’ve got to keep yourself and who you are, but I think in general, I just want to figure out what’s going wrong, the reason why we are losing games like this.”

Brooks suffered through a horrid performance Tuesday when the Rockets visited Phoenix, a 113-110 Suns victory in which Brooks missed all six of his shots and failed to score in 12:29 of action. He was dramatically outplayed effort-wise by former Sun Goran Dragic, but perhaps Brooks will show the same kind of emotion Dragic did in front of his former home crowd.

Marcin Gortat, for one, is concerned Brooks might play a bit too much one on five basketball as he tries to put on a show for his old fans and prove the Rockets made a mistake dealing him.

“I’m just scared it’s going to be an Aaron Brooks versus the Houston Rockets, that’s what I’m scared of,” Gortat said. “I’m just scared it’s going to be one big game, and I know Aaron is going to want to have a good game over there just like I want to have it here [against Orlando]. It’s going to be frustrating if Steve’s not playing, for real. I’m going to be the guy missing him the most, trust me.”

The Suns have won seven straight games against the Rockets, including two this season, to match the longest streak in team history by either squad, a seven-game Suns run that started on Oct. 16, 1969.

If Nash can’t go, the Suns will need Brooks to strike a balance between being a dynamic scoring threat and an effective distributor for Phoenix to have a legitimate shot at extending that streak.

UPDATE: Nash out

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported that Nash will sit this one out, as expected. However, he is now questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Hornets as well.

Tags: Aaron Brooks Steve Nash

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