When the talk around the NBA turns to great “closers”, Steve Nash’s name doesn’t seem to come up nearly as often as it should, and sometimes not at all.

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.

  • anne

    I really enjoyed reading this and totally agree. I loved the initial analogy about a billion dollars and being electrocuted …

  • kristel

    nice blog :)

  • Carla

    Amen, Joe. Amen!

  • JAS

    Joe, Joe Joe, gotta love you man. Suns would be smart to let you motivate this team before games. Okay, yes Nash did come through at the end and no, we don’t have to get into a debate about how much he cost us on the way to that point. It was a good win over Portland, a team like our Suns desperate for that last season extending slot. However, like most of our wins latley it comes with a big qualifier, NO BRANDON ROY. Add the fact that Lon Babby was in the stands, taking notes and ready to insert the cattle prod into somewhere delicate. Suns might be if you really stretch it a #8, but why, to make Sarver richer? How come we don’t get in the mix with the trade talks? Nash said last night, if it’s to be then I’ll pack my bags and move on. I know, you know we all know, there will never be a title here with Steve Nash at the point. Suns have tried it every way possible and still came up empty. Do we have to repeat the Amare gone for nothing thing again before the light comes on? Suns have some talent to build on, are these once in awhile victories that precious. I watched Magic Johnson the other day say he never cared about records, beating certain teams or players, nothing. He only cared about winning the trophy, whatever it took. Hopefully we have a GM with that same mind set.

  • Jill Cross

    Hi there, Mr. Gilmartin.

    We am missing the desert weather, flora, and fauna we enjoy in Phoenix in the Fall that you enjoy year round. Vacation time does not allow husband and self to visit during basketball season but we catch all the Suns games that find their way to Vancouver or Portland, and wear appropriate team supporting gear while watching gamers over broadband/big screen TV. We are fans of all the Suns team, oncourt and off which includes you!

    Love our hometown boy Steve Nash but have grown to love his teammates, too. It must be a treat to know them as you do and a treat for them to know you.

    We wanted to let you know we think of you as a ‘Sun’ and appreciate your perspective on the team and its performance at close range. You are always objective, not doting, and we feel well informed. Thank you for the work you do.

    The last time we wrote you were in the hospital coping with injuries and the loss of your lovely wife. Please know that you have many fans wishing you well and appreciating your work.

    Cheers from Victoria, B. C. Jill and Wayne Cross

  • Dacre

    I agree with you whole heartedly. I would ideally love the Suns “2nd season” (the games left after the all star break) to be a down hill run into a playoff position (8th or 7th seed is probably the most realistic expectation) and shake someone up good and proper. I like the idea of the Suns getting a look at the Spurs in the first round or even the Lakers (Bynum and Gasol vs Lopez and Gortat).
    It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride for the next 40+ games so hang on!!

  • JAS

    Fasten your seat belts, here we go again. Now the Knicks will not be confused with the Lakers, Heat or Celtics but their not the Nets either and beating them at home is a huge step up for our Suns. Amare pounds us inside ( who doesn’t) but it’s start in the right direction. Might be just a mirage but at this point in a dismal season do we have anything else to cheer about?

  • JAS

    First the debacle in Detroit and tonight the meltdown in Philly, pack your bags Steve, Lopez, Warrick or Childress (same player right)and maybe even Drajic (what happened to him? Suns are only playing now because it’s their job. I never thought this team would pack it in, what a letdown.