Nash Has 20 Points, 16 Assists As Suns Stay Hot In Toronto

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

TORONTO(AP) Steve Nash again made his annual trip home to Canada one to remember.

Nash had 20 points and 16 assists, Jason Richardson scored 22 points and the Phoenix Suns won their fourth straight game, 113-94 over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

''I wouldn't trade him for any guard in the league, I really wouldn't,'' Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of Nash. ''The way we play and what we want to do, he's my guy. I wouldn't trade him.''

While he appreciated the sentiment, Nash jokingly suggested Gentry might find at least one deal too good to refuse.

''That's really sweet of him but I'm sure if they offered Chris Paul for me, he'd kick me out the door,'' Nash said.

Amare Stoudemire had 18 points and Leandro Barbosa added 17 before leaving with a sore left ankle. Channing Frye scored 15 as Phoenix won its 12th straight over Toronto.

Although X-rays were negative, Barbosa said he doesn't expect to play in either of the two remaining games on this road trip and suggested he could be out as long as two weeks.

It's the sixth time Nash has recorded more than 15 assists against Toronto. The two-time MVP posted a Facebook message on Sunday morning thanking Canadian fans for their support and calling his visit to Toronto ''one of my favorite games of the year.'' He got a loud ovation when he was introduced before the game.

Nash was raised on Canada's West Coast but spent several summers in Toronto training and playing for the Canadian national team, where he was coached by current Raptors coach Jay Triano.

''It's a special game for me, no question,'' Nash said. ''I wish we could play here more than once, that's for sure.''

Phoenix forward Grant Hill said the Suns know how much the lone Canadian game on the schedule means to Nash.

''This trip is a big, big deal for him,'' Hill said. ''We're just glad we don't lose or he'd be really upset.''

The Suns have not lost to the Raptors since a 101-94 defeat on Feb. 10, 2004, the final meeting before Nash re-signed with the team. Nash scored the decisive basket in Phoenix's 101-100 home win over Toronto on Nov. 15, converting a three-point play in the final minute.

Gentry said Nash's contribution in this one was just as meaningful.

''Steve did a great job,'' Gentry said. ''He just controlled the whole game.''

Six different Phoenix players reached double-figure scoring, and the Suns finished 13 of 30 from 3-point range. The Raptors made just one of 20.

''It comes down to 3-pointers,'' Triano said. ''They are the best 3-point shooting team in the league and you can see why. We are the third best and we didn't really show it today.''

Chris Bosh had 30 points and 17 rebounds for Toronto, which has lost three straight and seven of nine. Andrea Bargnani had 24 points and DeMar DeRozan had 14.

''I know you guys are going to think I'm crazy but I thought we did a good job on Chris Bosh ,'' Gentry said, laughing. ''With the muscle that he's added, I think he's impossible. I don't know how you guard him or what you do.''

Toronto's Hedo Turkoglu scored on a three-point play to cut the lead to 84-79 early in the fourth, but the Raptors couldn't get any closer. Stoudemire capped a 6-0 run with a putback dunk, two of his eight points in the fourth, and the Suns weren't threatened again.

Nash came in averaging an NBA-high and career-best 11.8 assists and had seven in the first quarter. He fed Stoudemire on all four of his baskets, including two dunks, as the Suns opened a 33-25 lead after one.

Held to three points in the first quarter, Bosh scored 16 in the second, making seven of 10 shots as Toronto trimmed it to 50-49 at the half.

Phoenix used a 10-2 run early in the third to push its lead back to double digits, then kept on scoring. The Raptors responded by closing the quarter on a 15-6 run, with Turkoglu's three-point play making it 84-76.

Two days after he was kneed in the ''pelvic region'' on a dunk by Boston's Paul Pierce , Bosh took another hard knock in this one, getting shoved to the ground by Stoudemire as he drove to the basket with 4:18 left in the second. Stoudemire was called for a flagrant foul.

Bosh's teammates, who didn't react Friday as Pierce stood over Toronto's leading scorer in a taunting pose, were more vocal this time, with Jose Calderon briefly getting into Stoudemire's face before being yanked away by Richardson.

Calderon knocked Nash to the floor on a drive early in the third but no flagrant foul was called and Calderon was the first to help Nash to his feet.

NOTES: Phoenix is the only NBA team to score at least 100 points every game this season. ... This is the 26th time Toronto has made just one 3-pointer in its NBA-record stretch of 878 games with at least one 3. ... Toronto took a season-high 92 shots.


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