Nash accomplished a feat no one has ever done in the NBA.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
For any Suns fans that need to be talked off the ledge after watching their club miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04, here are some notes that will ease your pain. Remember, the team went 12-5 to finish the season (unfortunately, Dallas went 11-6) and only missed the eighth seed in the Western Conference by two games. Playing without their leading scorer Amar’e Stoudemire for the last 29 games of the season and sixth man Leandro Barbosa for seven games during a crucial playoff push, the Suns missed being the sixth seed in the West by just four games. Although some cloudiness may have rolled into the Valley, here are 10 pieces of plenty of silver lining that foster optimism:
1. Steve Nash is the first player in NBA history to shoot over 50 percent from the floor, 90 percent from the line and 40 percent from downtown in NBA history for three straight seasons. Larry Bird was the only other player to accomplish that feat in two consecutive seasons.
2. Grant Hill appeared in 82 games for the first time in his career.
3. The Suns were 17-3 this season when holding team under 100 points.
4. Shaquille O’Neal led the NBA in field goal percentage for the 10th time in his career. He was the first Suns player to lead the league in that category since Cedric Ceballos did so during the 1992-93 season.
5. The Suns averaged the most fast-break points in the league since the All-Star Break, while also leading the league in scoring in that period and overall for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
6. The Suns recorded five 40-point quarters since the All-Star break while only reaching that mark two times in the 203 previous periods that preceded it.
7. The Suns finished the season with the second-highest win total for a non-playoff team since the NBA adopted the 16-team format in the 1983-84 season. They ended up with seven more wins than the Pistons, who were the eighth seed the Eastern Conference playoffs.
8. If the Suns were in the Eastern Conference, they would be the fifth seed in the playoffs.
9. Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry owned the best percentage out of all the head coaches that took over midseason.
10. The Suns, who led the NBA in field goal percentage for the fourth straight season, became the first team since the Chicago Bulls in 1990-91 and 1991-92 to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor in consecutive seasons.