He is given due props for his playmaking, uncanny ability to out-think defenses, and almost unparallel productivity for a point guard his age. While all of the above is true, I’m here to tell you he is also as deadly a clutch shooter as there is in the game today.
If I’m in a game where the winner gets a billion dollars and the loser gets electrocuted, and the game comes down to a three-point try there’s nobody I’d rather have take it for me than Steve Nash.
Thus, I was the least surprised man in US Airways Center when, with the score tied and 1:21 left in the game last night, Nash didn’t look to set anybody up, or even think pick and roll. He simply came down the court and drilled a trey that was good even before it left his hand.
He’s been described as an artist whose game is pure poetry, but in situations like this he becomes a cold blooded terminator. The only Sun whose shot ever gave me that kind of confidence was Walter Davis.
This victory wasn’t all about Nash, of course. And this was certainly not his only contribution. Bottom line, this was an encouraging “team” victory, with a half-dozen double-digit scorers.
Most encouraging was how hard the Suns competed and how much more confident they looked than in the string of recent embarrassments.
They have by no means fully regained their old swagger, but while they continue to be a team very much in transition, they offered convincing evidence that they are not in turmoil.
Granted, beating the injured-riddled Blazers is not likely to shake up the power rankings. But even in bad health Portland is still very competitive and this would have been an easy game for a less-determined Suns team to lose.
And where a loss might well have kept the team in a skid, the win was a nice springboard to a five-game Eastern swing that’s as “easy”, as you are ever going to see — a smooth stretch that may go a log way toward settling the troubling question of whether the Suns are a bad team, or a good team that’s been going through a bad spell.
The only team that’s even remotely close to .500 on the trip is New York, and the Knicks have been almost as beatable at home this year as have the Suns. The other four teams are a combined 61 games under .500.
So what we have here, clearly, as a chance to make a run. I’m not talking playoff run, mind you. The Suns would need a written excuse from the commissioner to avoid the playoff run.
No, I’m talking a respectability run. A chance to position themselves for a winning season and a shooter’s shot at any first-round opponent. Of course, the risk here is that if they fall on this trip they may never be able to get up.
And yes, I’m aware of the annoying fact that these basketball players have too much baseball in them. Translation: Like hitters who have to dig a hole in the batter’s box to get comfortable they don’t seem to settle in until they’ve dug a double-digit hole.
But hey, as long as Steve Nash is in this house, that’s no big deal.
The bottom line: I’m still convinced this is a plus .500 team with a shooter’s shot at causing any first-round foe trouble.