Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash (10) and Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic in the second half at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 92-86. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns 92, Los Angeles Lakers 86 -- Steve Nash's return


PHOENIX – The terrain on Planet Orange isn’t what it was when the Suns traded Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers back in July. The man Suns president of basketball ops Lon Babby called “the sun, moon and stars” of the franchise had more light than all three combined shining on him when he made his return to Phoenix on Wednesday night.

“With the light in my face from the whole way from the bus to here, I couldn’t really see much,” Nash said dryly before the game, a podium and roped off press conference in the US Airways Center hallway replacing the usual grab-the-guy-as-he-dresses-at-his-locker routine.

“I haven’t had the chance to look around, but it still feels the same.”

Yet when the two-time MVP took to the court, it wasn’t. He was wearing yellow. His old protege, Goran Dragic, had been sitting in Nash’s old locker, glowingly speaking about his relationship with Nash. Dragic reminisced about the old days that seemed as long ago as it’s been since the Suns wore the black alternate jerseys they sported Wednesday in a 92-86 win.

Nash was very un-Nash-like Wednesday. He finished with 11 points and had two lonely assists in what was a painful loss for Los Angeles in a number of ways.

Never the personality to make a big deal out of it all, Nash said he had been too busy working the Lakers back into winning form to think about how the crowd would react to his return. He scored six early points but quieted down after the Suns played a highlight reel of their former hero to the chorus of Diddy’s “Coming Home.”

“There’s security guards, ball-boys, season-ticket holders,” said Nash. “There’s a lot of familiar faces here regardless of the coaches and players that have departed. In that respect, it does feel like coming home. And I’m happy to see all of those people and say thanks.”

Prior to the game, the emotions were hard to squeeze out of Nash, whose soft voice didn’t quite penetrate the three-deep group of reporters when he arrived with cameras following his every move. His only break came when former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni took the podium, allowing the two-time MVP to sneak into the Phoenix equipment room to catch up with old friends.

D’Antoni provided more emotion to the setting, even to the point that he nearly came across as regretful. He said his own departure from the Suns wasn’t the part he rethinks. It was how little time he had to cherish the moments with those Nash-led Suns teams that bothered him.

“We had great guys, great management … the fans were great, great weather,” D’Antoni said of his time in Phoenix. “Everything – there’s nothing you could ask for four years that was better than that.

“Sometimes you have a bunch of guys that, you think everywhere should be like this, you take for granted how they clicked and how good it was, how much fun it was to watch them every day,” he added. “You chase a championship … and sometimes you should take care of (the moment) a little bit better.”

But those days are long gone. Even Dragic recounted the good memories of Nash.

“He helped everybody,” Dragic said, then remembering Nash’s humor that to the public appeared as YouTube clips directed by the point guard.

The past-tense from Dragic, D’Antoni and Nash were telling of the present. These are trying days in Phoenix. Crowds like the one that appeared on Wednesday are rare-to-nonexistent. Purple hardly belongs nowadays. Winning is hard to come by.

And with the Lakers losing against the Suns after three promising wins — and seeing Dwight Howard go down with a shoulder injury — Nash and D’Antoni appeared like they were looking at the past just as the Phoenix fans were.

“This place is so special to me,” Nash said. “It’s a special, special place.”

“To be in front of hese incredible fans — I’m very grateful for the reception but also for my time here, which was the best years of my life.”

And on a night where Nash, D’Antoni and the Phoenix Suns were caught up on the memories of the past, it’s a wonder if the future holds anything close in comparison.

“I hope the (Suns) fans can have some great teams to get behind,” Nash said.

Hoping for the best may never be enough to bring back the glory days.

Suns rally to beat Lakers in Steve Nash’s return

Michael Beasley caught the ball on the right side of the three-point arc, the game tied at 86. Metta World Peace stripped him, and Beasley stumbled in what you might call a Michael Beasley play in a nutshell.

But this time, Beasley kept his focus. He kept control, got up and with the shot clock winding down wiggled his way to the rim for a right-handed scoop shot. His 26th and 27th points gave Phoenix a lead they would keep, and P.J. Tucker was just physical enough with a driving Kobe Bryant on the ensuing Lakers’ possession to keep Los Angeles at bay as the Suns took a 92-86 victory at US Airways Center on Wednesday.

“Metta is so strong, man,” Beasley said. “When he knocked the ball out of my hand, I seen he didn’t try to reach for it. So once I picked it up and I had two seconds to go, only thing I was trying to do is get it toward the basket. That type of night, I guess.”

That type of night, indeed.

Beasley played in his best game yet as a Suns player, recording five steals and looking engaged even through mistakes. Phoenix overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half, survived a 15-point quarter and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 29-13 in the fourth to come away with a win. Shooting 51 percent heading to the fourth quarter, the Lakers ended up with a 42 percent shooting percentage by the end of the night.

Maybe it means nothing on paper, but beating the Lakers never means nothing.

“We really made some great efforts tonight, some second and third efforts,” interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. “P.J. Tucker, man, has got to be one of the best defenders in the league.

“Gortat had a double-double, I think he played well. Everybody really contributed to this.”

Nine turnovers plagued the Lakers early in the game, and Phoenix led 26-22 after the first quarter. But the Suns only scored four points in the first eight minutes of the second quarter and ended with 15 points in the period while shooting just 7-of-23 (30 percent) from the field. Gortat kept the Suns in it, thoroughly outplaying former teammate Dwight Howard with 12 points and eight rebounds – four of which were offensive – in the first half.

Gortat finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Tied at 41 at halftime, the Suns gave up 65 percent shooting in the third quarter to fall behind as many as 13, but an early fourth-quarter run saw them tie the game at 82 on a Dudley three-pointer with less than four minutes to play.

That play was a big one, and it was set up by Dragic’s kickout in a quiet but solid outing for the Suns’ new point guard. He finished with 11 points, eight assists and three steals.

Consecutive jumpers by Beasley and Scola gave Phoenix a four-point lead before the Lakers tied it back up. Then came Beasley’s wild score – it didn’t help Los Angeles that Howard left the game in the fourth with what appeared to be an aggravation to his injured right shoulder.

Bryant, recently more a distributor than a scorer, finished with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, nine assists and six turnovers. But as expected, he went into old Kobe mode late, blowing by Tucker, who didn’t give up on the play and got just enough of a contest on Bryant to force a miss on a layup.

“Just try to get a shoulder in front, try to make him make a tough shot,” Tucker said of his thought process on the play. “I knew he was going left, I know he can make a shot with both hands, I knew he was going left. Just missed the shot.”

And 1

Steve Nash when asked about his thoughts on retiring as a Sun: “I thought that was the way it would go. It’s a difficult business. It just became clear in the last couple of months before free agency (it wasn’t going to end that way).”

“I can’t really name the signs, but it just felt like they were going in a new direction.”


  • Dan S.

    Two words…Beasley! Beasley! Haha Looks good on ya Steve-o! Especially Dragon having better numbers AND getting the W

  • SHAZAM

    suns will beat the heat in this years finals 4-0 im putting money on it

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Refrehing game to watch! I really enjoyed it!
    Beasley was really a factor in this game, if he could do this on a consistent basis the Suns would be a playoff team.
    Gortat was my quiet hero in this game. He won the matchup vs Howard, the best center in the league, and posted a double-double in less then 30 minutes. Again, I have no clue why Hunter wouldn’t play him in the 4th quarter, but plays Scola instead.
    Dragic again was a disapointment. Nash is known for his weak defense and still Dragic isn’t albe to shoot well. His 3 pointers are a desaster. Maybe the statsline won’t tell, but Nash created the whole game for the Lakers, while Kobe often got the last pass (and the assist).

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    A Suns win…a lakers loss….doesn’t get better than that…draft be damned…for at least one night.

    Maybe it was the black uni’s….been playing “Back in Black” for the last half hr.

    “Beasley’s let loose
    from his noose…..”

  • Anonymous

    If Beasley scored like this consistently, not only would we be a playoff team, but go deep into the playoffs as well.

  • Harry

    Silly,

    Let me guess. You’re Polish? Dragic was awesome. Wake up!

  • Fan in Chi Town

    Great, great win! Ironic that it seems like Beasley had the vendetta against the Lake show when he wasn’t even a Sun last season. I really wish he was a lot more consistent in his play because in the fourth quarter I actually was saying “get the ball to Beasley.” It was awesome.

    Thank you Suns for one night of pure bliss this season. BEAT L.A.!

  • silver

    Beasley had a big game. Gortat too, Dragic also did well. Beasley finally earned his contract haha. Good job protecting our draft picks!!! USC, UCLA, Clippers now the lakers. Bad week for Los Angelites to be in Arizona.

  • Michael

    For one night it feels like the good old times! This win saved the season. Get us your lottery pick!

    @ Sill: What a lousy hater you are. Even Tony will admit that this was a decent performance from Goran. If only for the assisted 3-pointer from Jared that tied the game. But you´ve disqualified yourself now!

  • Dan S.

    Just reading through comments on ESPN La Rapid reaction……Ahahahaha. I don’t know what’s more silly, that or Fakers wanting Nash to have a J-kidd/Billups role..or Sillmarillions comments that Dragic sucked tonight??

  • PennyAnd1

    Glad to know that Suns fans (most of them) showed some class tonight by giving Nash the deservedly standing ovation.

    Good win for the Suns tonight

    Suns hit the jackpot with Beasley. I think Beasley has resurged his career here in Phoenix.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Dan S.

    I kind of agree with Sillmarillon’s on Dragic. Dragic just doesn’t know how to make this team gel. As a PG, that is his important job. As you can tell this team sucks, and you can’t help but point fingers on the man that has the ball 70% of the time.

    Dragic may be good individually, but he sucks leading the point.

  • Luka

    Beasley has been found. Yeah, it was against porous Laker defense, but so what? It was a possible once in a lifetime performance. That kush musta been good.

    In reality, this was a bad game played by two bad teams. If the Suns had to win one of their next 20 this is the one you’d want them to win. Let’s not get carried away with this talk of winning. We’ve got a draft status to maintain.

    It’s hilarious how hysterically bad of a teammate Kobe is. Shoulda went to Toronto Steve.

  • JR

    Ugh, those espn commentators was annoying as shi.. going on and on about Lakers and Kobe passing, but it was obvious which team and player is better. Go Suns!!! Go Beas!!!

    @Luka
    I don’t mind them winning home games to give something to the fans, but no more wins on the road

  • Luka

    @JR

    Agreed. Jon Barry is a tool.

  • DBreezy

    It wasn’t the prettiest of games outside of the Beas, but a fun and excellent W anyway! That was the Beas that used to show up in Minny. I don’t know whether it was Gentry, Hunter, or the trade deadline that got into him, but it’s nice to see him taking confident shots from his favorite spots on the floor again. They won’t always drop, but I can live with it when he shoots those kinds of shots.

    What a mess the Lake show is. It was kind of funny/sad seeing plays where Nash and Kobe were the first two down the court offensively-seriously how can that be on a b2b? Gasol and Howard couldn’t catch a beach ball if you rolled it to them. It was laughable watching Gasol get stuffed by the rim and struggle to finish easy shots over the top of Kieff-he needs to look in the mirror and stop complaining about every coach. Magic was right after the Dallas series, he should have been traded. It will be interesting to see how Howard recovers mentally from this season wherever he ends up, because he looks shook. Extra lottery pick cautiously on the horizon!

  • Elviro (Italy)

    Oh Yes ! Please Beasley always do that!

  • Luka

    LA is on the verge of irrelevance. Pau most definitely should’ve been moved by now. His trade value has plummeted to new lows.

    Kobe and Dwight are the worst teammates imagineable. D’Antoni is the worst possible coach for this mess. Nash has to be regretting asking to be traded to that LA soap opera.

  • Mike D’Antoni

    You’re starting to piss me off…

  • foreveris2long

    Other than being sick of ABC announcers talking about how they cannot believe Kobe has transformed his game to pass more, it was very enjoyable to see a Lakers loss in Phoenix. Huge game by Beasley as he beasted World Peace and the Lakers.

    I said I would have an opinion on the firing of Gentry after 5 games. I think it was appropriate not from a win loss standpoint but it is clear that for whatever reason Dragic and Beasley perform better when Gentry is not running the ship. Those guys, like Lopez and Clark underperformed when they played for him. As for Hunter being the guy I don’t know if he is any better or equal to Marjle, Turner or anyone else.

    Three or four more road losses on this trip might just might put a nail in the Lakers coffin and allow the Suns to rise in the lottery if we can find someone to do the drafting.

  • IowaPhXfan

    Hunter clearly runs a little bit of a loose ship…very common for new inexperienced coaches…just let the players run wild…sometimes has a positive effect initially…but backfires once the team faces any adversity. Beasley and Dragic are the type of players that excel with less coaching…very naturally gifted but aren’t going to change their games much no matter the coaching…so might as well let them do what they do. Only coaching that would help is just tell Beasley you’re allowed a max of 2 three point shots a game so use them wisely. That’s pretty much it.

    This was definitely a last ‘hoorah’ game… we’ll give it another week max before we gut things… Gortat, Dudley, Brown, & Telfair will all be gone… hopefully. With the Gay trade yesterday and potential trade partners already making moves I would think the Phx FO switched to frantic mode immediately following the game last night..

    Cheers to the Lakers tanking so we get another lottery pick!

    -IowaPhXfan

  • Tim in BC

    Yeah Suns!!! A great team effort and I only wish Beasley would play like that most of the time. Maybe he will now from now on? I thought Dragic played alright and made that nice layup near the end of the game. It didn’t look good for awhile but the Suns worked hard and the Lakers did another one of their patented fourth quarter crashes. I don’t recall a game where Steve Nash only got two assists. Whatever reason he went there for, maybe he picked the wrong team for his skill set?

  • john

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the game last night. I would have booed Steve with all my heart. Note because I hate him. I think he’s great for what he did while wearing a PHX uni. I would boo him because Suns fans hate the Lakers. Period. My hatred of the Lakers is greater than my love for Steve Nash.

    That said, I’ll gladly accept Steve back into the family and the Ring of Honor once he hangs up his shoes, but for as long as I live, I will never cheer for a Laker under any circumstance.

    Quick notes

    I see that (mostly) the Hunter haters have shut up. Good. A bunch of people who had no inside information whatsoever about the quality of the candidates speculating that he was the wrong guy just because Turner has been an assistant since dinosaurs walked the earth and Majerle is a hometown guy was just stupid.

    I see that some people still believe the Suns should have re-signed Nash. That’s odd to me. For one, the notion that Steve wanted to sign in PHX is a little bogus. It’s not like Steve would have taken $3M just to play in PHX when he could have received $10M+ elsewehere. That was never going to happen. Sure, Nash would have stayed in PHX for even money or maybe even slightly less, but why would the Suns want to pay Nash $8M to $10M just to perpetuate their problems? It was the right time for both parties to move on, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why some PHX fans can’t see that.

    Dragic took it to Nash

    Gortat had his first good game I can remember against a top-quality big

    Beasley owned that game when it counted

    If nothing else, Planet Orange is interesting.

  • Abe

    Beasley did his thing!!!
    That was by far the best game of the season.

    if Beasley can be consistent and we do get the 2 first round lottery picks, then watch out NBA the Phoenix Suns are back! :D

    we need Mclemore or Shabazz.

  • DBreezy

    Abe,

    Fun win, but in the wise words of Winston Wolf, ‘let’s not go sucking each other’s di*ks just yet’!

  • Greg

    @sillmarillion

    Goran was a disappointment? Plus +8 on the day, 11 pts 8 assists, 3 steals, and took care of the ball with only 2 turnovers in 37 mins….that is disappointing? He played solid defense and didnt turn the ball over, and he knew the team had to ride Beasley. 1 of 3 from 3pt for the game isnt horrible. Some of the best shooters in the league post nights like that regularly. I just don’t see your logic in that statement

  • IowaPhXfan

    The naive fan only sees points….not how good of defense you played or if you setup teammates or if you took care of the ball.

  • Keith

    Yeah, Dragic played well. Could we really continue to see THIS Beasley? I await with bated breath. But, man, was that a satisfying win. Second MVP of the game after Beasley is Brown because he injured Dwight and went 19-8 with Dwight out. :)

  • Keith

    * we went

  • Mel.

    “Ugh, those espn commentators was annoying as shi.. going on and on about Lakers and Kobe passing, but it was obvious which team and player is better.”

    I was seriously having flashbacks to the old WWF/WCW “Monday Night Wars” during that crap, wherein the stooges in the back of the arena would pipe in scripted lines to the announcers about the “current storylines,” in the hopes of hard-selling pay-per-views to people just tuning in.

    In the third, Barry brought up “The New Kobe Bryant” no less than THIRTEEN TIMES. It’s like the NBA realized that this was the only way to hype the game (Given the Suns woefulness, Nash’s total lack of touches or participation in his homecoming game and the Lakers’ generally depressing ceiling) and went with the only selling point they had. To. The. Point. Of. Tedium.

    Anyway, glad I wasn’t the only one yelling at my TV about it. Since moving out of AZ, I barely get a chance to watch the boys on national television: fortunately, this was one for the books.

    (Also, it was pretty damn funny to see how Barry promptly shut up with the grease-gun compliments for Bryant in crunch time, as he promptly stopped passing to anybody and went 1-5 in shooting the Lakers out of the game entirely. Clay feet.)

  • IowaPhXfan

    NOBODY will ever see the Beasley from last night on a consistent basis. Ever.

    The only time he was consistent was his 1 year in college where he knew he could dominate every game.

    Last night was the perfect recipe for a big game from him. National TV in Suns biggest game of the year. Coach who he didn’t get along with recently fired, now there’s a players coach much more lenient in charge, perfect for Beas. A former great defensive player in World Peace who now is a step slow that Beas could get amped up for….

    I really don’t know what a better recipe for a huge game from Beasley would be… maybe if Nash went to Minn… and Bynum was on Minn (past beef)… and Phx was playin at Minn…. Oh nevermind he’d pry just fire up a shot per minute and only play 10 mins cause he was sucking so bad…(see @Minn 10 mins, 1-8, 2 pts, 2 rebs)

    If you can sucker anybody into trading for him do it without hesitation.

  • john

    While I agree this isn’t the Michael Beasley the Suns will see on a consistent basis, I’d still hold out hope for another couple of weeks before I seriously considered dealing him. He has the potential to be a serious star in the league. Not many players can make the game look as easy as he did last night. In fact, whenever he wants separation, he can get it (and not just on slow defenders, on virtually anyone in the league). He has a quick, high release. He has the tools. If Hunter is the man who has finally gotten through to him, the Suns could have an absolute steal on their hands.

    Ugh, Beasley is frustrating. I hate getting hopeful, but I can’t help it. He’s a specimen for sure.

  • Lindsey Hunter

    Its impossible to say Beasley will never be consistant… he has been since Hunter took over.

    Artest is not “a step slow” eitger, he is still a great defender. Earl Clark is a sick defender and Beasley put it to him.

  • Scott

    I’m curious if Beasley will become consistent, or if being inconsistent is his only form of consistency.

    Beasley is growing older. Hard to say if he’s maturing or not. But Hunter has him playing defense, and it’s been my philosophy all along that if Beasley would just play some serious defense it would correct his offensive rhythms.

    If Beasley gets it into his head to play hard on defense, each time he does that I’d tend to look for a good offensive game from him as well.

  • IowaPhXfan

    I am thankful for Beasley. He has had 10 games that you would label as ‘terrible’ (Shooting less than 36% while attempting at least 8 shots). He averages more turnovers/gm than assists/gm. I hope we ride him to a top 3 pick in the draft.

  • john

    ^^^^

    And that is indicative of what I believe is Beasley’s biggest flaw – shot selection. On his career, 33% of his attempts have been from 16-23 feet (where he’s a career 40% shooter). Another 13% of his shots come from 10 to 15 feet, where he is an abysmal 36% shooter on his career. The worst part is that in those ranges, he’s assisted on less than half of his baskets, meaning he’s typically jacking up a long-range two in iso coverage while not including his teammates and not allowing his teammates to create for him (aka hero ball).

    The worst shot in basketball is the iso 16-23 foot jumper. For one, isolation plays have remarkably low productivity rates, even for the best players in the NBA. Secondly, why not just step back a couple of feet and give yourself a shot at a 3-ball (where Beasley’s career eFG is a respectable 52%)? In my opinion, there is never a good reason to shoot in the 16-23 range unless it’s a designed set and you’re wide open (or if the shot clock is winding down, of course).

    If Beasley ever decided he was going to get smart about shot selection, attack the rim with malice, and rein in his isolation game, he’d be that player we saw last night on an every night basis. He is that good. He’s just not that smart.

  • Josh Smith

    Man i might be headed phoenix bound??? nash gonna pass to me??/ oh wait nash is with them lakers now huh. who the point guard? this dragic fool, the one who got dunked by nash???

    fml

  • Dennis Marshall

    I think it’s time for my son to demand a trade unless he gets the starting job over that terrible Euro

  • Alvin Gentry

    Where did this Beasley come from? mmmkay this came out of nowhere…

  • IowaPhXfan

    @john

    spot on. if i was coach/gm/anything related to making decisions for an NBA team…i would develop the first ‘money ball’ NBA team. advanced stats have JUST started being used in acquiring players….my main objective would be putting together a team that 95% of time shoots either a 3pt or within 10 ft. NO mid range shots. Unless shot clock is expiring.
    it’s similar to acquiring MLB players with high OBP… increase the efficiency of your shots and you will score more points. i think MIA and OKC have caught on to this already…yes they have Lebron n Durant…but they surrounded them with three pt shooters. a better example is Houston…it’s either get to the rack or launch the long ball…and it’s working very well for them. Getting to the hoop also means drawing a lot of fouls.
    Effective Field Goal % is a great barometer… adjusting for fact that 3p fgs are worth 1 more point… the top 5 this year are MIA, SA, OKC, LAC, HOU.
    Yes you need good players. But Houston is proving you don’t need 3-4 all stars to do this. Harden/Lin very good at getting to hoop, Parsons/Delfino/Douglas/Morris all very good spot up shooters. Asik very efficient inside scorer. Phx has 3 guys with EFG% of 50% or higher. Hou has 6 with harden/lin/douglas barely under 50%. Efficiency is very very important. Rudy Gay is one of the most overrated players in the league btw, 43% EFG%. Yikes.

  • JD

    @IowaPhXfan

    Mark Cuban is well known for his use of analytics. Remember his long interview after the Mavs’ championship? Heck, he even used analytics to choose Rick Carlisle as his coach.

    When Blanks was hired as Suns GM, he hired an outside contractor to run his analytics operation.

    The concept of offensive efficiency was already seen in Phx under the SSOL era. That would be great if the Suns could ever get back to that.

  • bill.thomas

    Do not use the word “Flaw” and the word “Beasley” in the same sentence !!!

  • bill.thomas

    Damn, I sure hope Marshall demands a trade. The all our problems will be OVER !!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    I hope Marshall’s Dad demands a trade to the “Iceland Kings” LOL !!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    @JD: Cuban is well known for smoking blunts. Nuff said.

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