The Phoenix Suns have given the Orlando Magic headaches in recent years, but they could be without their best player.
Having won nine of the last 12 meetings, the Suns hope to continue their success against the Magic on Thursday night with Steve Nash’s status uncertain.
Article continues below ...
Nash decided to play through his groin injury Wednesday night against Miami but struggled in a season-low 29 minutes.
“I kind of took a little risk,” said Nash, who may consider sitting out in Orlando. “It didn’t feel great, but I don’t think I did serious damage to it.”
Nash scored 17 points in the 123-96 loss, but dished out just two assists for the first time since Dec. 29, 2008 – 141 games ago. Wednesday marked only the ninth time in 737 games where Nash played at least 29 minutes and failed to get more than two assists.
“We didn’t play hard,” Nash added. “We didn’t play with enough aggressiveness or urgency and I think it showed.”
All five Phoenix starters scored in double figures, and the Suns will likely need another all-around effort if Nash is unable to go in this game.
Phoenix (6-5) has struggled on the glass, allowing an NBA-worst 46.4 rebounds per game. That may not bode well against the Magic, who are the third-best rebounding team in the league.
Jason Richardson leads the Suns with 20.3 points but has struggled in his last two games, totaling 22 points on 10 of 30 from the field. The Suns likely will need Richardson to regain his shooting touch against an Orlando team that averages 103.9 points at home.
Hedo Turkoglu, who spent five years with the Magic, scored 15.5 points against his former team last season while with Toronto.
Dwight Howard is averaging a career-high 21.2 points as Orlando, surprisingly, continues to do most of its scoring from inside.
The Magic (7-3) have struggled from long distance, connecting on 34.7 percent of their shots from beyond the arc to rank 20th in the league after setting an NBA record with 841 3-pointers last season – breaking the Suns’ mark of 837 in 2005-06.
“We brought a lot of guys on our team in for a lot of reasons, but one thing they all have in common is that they can shoot the ball,” coach Stan Van Gundy said.
“History tells you that they can shoot the ball and we can’t panic over (10) games. We haven’t shot it well, but these guys have a history of shooting it well and will shoot it well.”
Injuries have also contributed to the shooting woes, as J.J. Redick, who was held out of Monday’s 89-72 win over Memphis with back spasms, did not practice Wednesday and is uncertain to play.
“We’re the only team in the league that prepares to play Phoenix by playing all big guys,” said Van Gundy. “They play small and we’re playing all big cause that’s all we got.”
Redick led the team by hitting 40.5 percent of his 3-pointers last season and is 7 for 11 from long distance against the Suns in his career.
While Howard continues to excel on the offensive side, he’s been a defensive force at home, averaging 3.3 blocks and 1.1 steals in seven games.