Nash, Suns dominate Warriors in home opener
Anybody waiting for Steve Nash to show his age, well, keep waiting.
The 35-year-old point guard scored 18 points and had the sixth 20-assist game of his career Friday night in Phoenix’s 123-101 rout of the Golden State Warriors in the Suns’ home opener.
The performance came two nights after he scored 14 fourth-quarter points, including the game-winning basket, in the Suns’ season opener at the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I’ll wait for you guys to decide when I’m over the hill,” Nash said.
All five Phoenix starters scored in double figures, led by Leandro Barbosa’s 24 points. Channing Frye, the former University of Arizona star making his home debut for the Suns, added 22, including making 6 of 7 3-pointers, four in the fourth quarter.
Amare Stoudemire added 20 points and Grant Hill had 18 for Phoenix.
Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 19 points, while Kelenna Azubuike added 17.
Nash’s 20 assists were two shy of his career high, set in a triple-overtime game against New York on Jan. 2, 2006.
He narrowly missed his first 20-point, 20-assist game in regulation. He had one in that three-overtime game against the Knicks.
Nash had 21 assists – his fifth game with 20 assists – at Detroit last Feb. 8.
He said the 20-assist mark was no big deal.
“It’s better than getting four,” Nash said, “but for me I want to win the game. I can get five assists or 20 assists and if we win, it doesn’t matter. If you get a bunch of assists, it means a lot of guys are scoring – which is nice.”
He said the Suns need to win the few early season games they have at home.
“I think everyone knows – 17 of 26 on the road to start the season – so we’ve got to win some of these early ones and we’ve got to win some of these home games so that we can give ourselves a little confidence,” Nash said, “and a little breathing room so if we lose a couple it’s not the end of the world.”
Golden State rookie point guard Stephen Curry, who had 12 points and four assists, got an up-close look at Nash.
“He saw a great point guard tonight that he would like to emulate,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
Nash understands the comparisons people have made between him and Curry.
“I think there are a lot of similarities,” Nash said. “… I really like his game. I think he’s going to have a fantastic career and I really look forward to watching him develop.”
Barbosa, starting in place of the suspended Jason Richardson, scored 12 points in the second quarter when Phoenix took control. Stoudemire had 10 points in the third as the Suns pulled away.
Phoenix shot 54 percent, including making 12 of 22 3s, compared with 46 percent shooting for the Warriors.
“They dominated the whole game,” Golden State’s Stephen Jackson said. “We were real soft out there.”
Up 62-51 at halftime, Phoenix scored the first five points of the third quarter – on Barbosa’s three-point play and Stoudemire’s fastbreak dunk – to take a 16-point lead.
“We made it pretty easy for them, I thought,” Nelson said.
Frye, buried on the bench in Portland last season, made his first six 3s, including four in a row in the fourth quarter to help Nash reach the 20-assist mark. Coach Alvin Gentry kept Nash in the game until there was 2:53 to play.
“Everybody’s just so unselfish on this team, it makes it fun to be out there,” Frye said. “It’s tough for me to get used to people yelling at me for not shooting.”
NOTES: Richardson was suspended by the NBA for the first two games of the season because of his drunken driving conviction stemming from an arrest last December. … Representatives of the WNBA champion Phoenix Mercury drew a standing ovation when introduced during a break in the first quarter. … Azubuike had nine points and four fouls in 11 minutes in the second quarter.