At age 32, Steve Nash was putting up career numbers with the Phoenix Suns.
Fans might have to wait a few more days to see what he does at 33.

Nash's status for Friday is questionable as Phoenix (39-10) hosts the Atlanta Hawks.

Nash missed his third game of the season on Wednesday, sitting out the team's 109-102 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The league's reigning two-time MVP experienced shoulder pain when he got out of bed last week, and on Monday, the pain forced him to sit out the second half of the team's 113-108 win over Denver.

Nash did not practice Thursday and wouldn't say whether he would play against the Hawks, but the veteran point guard doesn't believe the injury is something to be concerned about.

"I think we'd probably want to err on the side of caution at this point," said Nash, who turned 33 on Wednesday. "I've already missed a game and a half. I'd rather miss another one rather than injuring it further and missing more games, so we've got to be careful when we assess it tomorrow night and make sure we're comfortable with it."

Nash is averaging career highs in points (19.3) and assists (11.8) while averaging 35.3 minutes - third most on the team behind Shawn Marion and Raja Bell.

Phoenix has won five straight overall against Atlanta (18-30) and 12 of its last 14 home games against the Hawks, but coach Mike D'Antoni said that won't effect his decision for Friday.

"We wouldn't risk him no matter who we play," he said. "We'll work him tomorrow and if he feels no pain, he'll play and if he doesn't he'll wait until Sunday."

If Nash doesn't play Friday, his next chance will be at home on Sunday against Chicago.

Leandro Barbosa started in Nash's place on Wednesday, scoring 25 points. The Suns led by as many as 13 in the first quarter and they had a 14-point lead in the second before the Blazers rallied. Barbosa gave Phoenix a 3-point lead with 38.9 seconds left in regulation but Portland countered with one to send the game into overtime.

Amare Stoudemire scored the first five points of the extra period, and Barbosa hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

"Barbosa really came out in the second half and picked it up," said Stoudemire, who had 36 points. "He's been there all season long for us."

The Suns are 4-9 without Nash in the lineup since he arrived in Phoenix in 2004, but have won two of the three games he's missed this season.

Atlanta hopes to take advantage of Nash's absence and avoid a third straight loss. The Hawks have lost three of four to start February after going 8-7 in January - their first winning month since going 5-3 in January 2004.

Atlanta begins a five-game West Coast road trip following an 87-85 home loss to the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday. Josh Smith led the team with 20 points and nine rebounds before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter, while Marvin Williams added 19 and nine, respectively.

Rookie Jeremy Richardson, who signed his second 10-day contract prior to the game, missed a potential game-winning 20-footer in the closing seconds.

"It's always tough to lose, no matter how you lose it," Williams said. "We all felt we'd win the game."

The Hawks have won three straight on the road, where they are 9-15.

The Suns, who are 20-4 in Phoenix, are trying to avoid consecutive home losses for the first time since losing to Utah and Dallas on Nov. 3 and 9.


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