Preview: Los Angeles Clippers (29-46) at Phoenix Suns (36-38)

Phoenix Suns 111, Los Angeles Clippers 98

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PHOENIX — With the Phoenix Suns mired in a four-game losing streak that has dropped them 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot and caused the Hollinger Playoff Odds to decrease their chances of reaching the postseason to an honest 0 percent, it begs the question how much longer will Steve Nash continue giving everything he has for a season gone awry?

Nash admitted after Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City that he doesn’t “feel good, but just trying to do what I can to contribute. It’s very difficult and it’s painful and I’m not moving very well. I’m going to try to play.”

Nash cited the fact that it’s a pretty long summer without a postseason appearance — and that summer could be longer this year with the NBA likely to encounter labor strife — and he wants to be out there with his teammates and hopefully feel better as the season drags to a conclusion.

On the other hand, there really is no need for Nash to gut out meaningless games while he’s ailing and the Suns really could use a look at Aaron Brooks as a starter as they ponder what kind of offer they should make him this summer.

Nash admitted he could be shut down at some point this year with a grueling five-game road trip looming although it’s not what he would prefer.

“We’ll see,” Nash said. “I think it’s hard to say what that point is, but I’d like to hope that I’ll start to feel better and be able to play out the rest of the games the way I’m accustomed to playing and try to get some wins.”

Although the Suns are resigned to the fact that their season ends in less than two weeks, they still want to build some momentum heading into next season as the Clippers come to town tonight.

In a way this is a matchup of two teams headed in different directions, with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon headlining a promising Clippers future, whereas Suns fans could be watching their final games of Nash before a potential offseason trade and franchise makeover.

It must be excruciating mentally for a team that just a year ago was a couple bounces away from an NBA Finals appearance to be resigned to a postseason-less fate with eight games still left on the schedule. I think their fourth quarter ineptitude the past couple games stemmed in part from this feeling, as the Suns just lacked any kind of killer instinct down the stretch. (Then again it was an issue the rest of the season as well to put them in this position.)

At this point Nash wants the Suns to just keep playing “with class and effort and passion and see what happens.”

With many players fighting for rotation or roster spots not to mention extensions for next season, some of the Suns still have lots to play for in the grand scheme of things starting tonight with the Clippers.

“We have to get better,” said Marcin Gortat. “We have to show that we belong on this team, that we want to stay on this team. This is the time for a lot of guys to show that we are good basketball players. I’m still going to try to prove that I can help this team. I’m still going to try to rebound the ball, do my things in the paint, try to be a defender, and I don’t care if we’re playing for playoffs or not, I’m still going to do it. I’m not going to let anybody punk me every night. I don’t care if we play a scrimmage game or not, street ball game, I’m going to step out of it and try to win the game.”

UPDATE: Nash to sit with flu

Nash was a late scratch after suffering from flu-like symptoms on Friday, meaning Aaron Brooks will get the start. When asked an hour before tipoff if Nash had the 24-hour flu, Gentry joked that he hoped it would be a nine-hour bug. Apparently it is not, and with no reason for Nash to push it he will sit this one out.

And 1

Gortat said after Wednesday’s game he doesn’t know yet whether he will play for the Polish national team this summer in qualifying games for the 2012 Olympics. The Polish center said there’s “a big possibility” he won’t play if there is a lockout because of insurance reasons although he obviously would like to represent his country as the nation’s only NBA player. … Nash sparked some debate Thursday by posting on his Facebook page: “Man, this has been a really disappointing season. What do you think the Suns need to do for next year?” Channing Frye followed sut asking fans for similar suggestions.

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Tags: Steve Nash

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