Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Nash Duels With Paul as Suns Sting Hornets

Nash racked up 15 assists Sunday.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Jan. 30, 2011

In a matchup between two of the best point guards in the NBA, the old lion showed the young lion that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve as the Suns captured a 106-104 home win over Hornets on Sunday.

Suns playmaker Steve Nash came into Sunday’s contest 3-0 against the other premier point guards in the league. After already besting Boston’s Rajon Rondo, the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook and Utah’s Deron Williams, Nash faced the Hornets’ Chris Paul, the West’s leading vote-getter at point guard.

Nash came into the evening having outscored his previous three counterparts 17 to 13, out-assisting them 8.3 to 7.0, out-shooting them 63 percent to 26 percent and out-shooting them from downtown 63 percent to 25 percent.

Although the Hornets’ Chris Paul fared better than his peers with 26 points and 12 assists on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor, Nash returned the favor with 10 points, 15 assists and five rebounds of his own. But like Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said, it’s not one-on-one, it’s a team game.

“It’s not a tennis match,” Gentry said. “He's also 0-2 against (Sixers point guard) Jrue Holliday."

Many of Nash’s dishes were converted into baskets by the “Polish Hammer,” Marcin Gortat, who has been on quite a roll the last two weeks.

“He’s playing great and he’s picking-and-rolling, catching and finishing,” Nash said. “I try to make it as easy as I can and he’s really improving and getting more confident and comfortable. He’s getting so many more reps and opportunities that it’s a completely different game for him because he didn’t get a lot of opportunities in Orlando.”

Gortat drilled 9-of-10 shots to total 25 points, setting his career high in scoring for the third consecutive game. It was the first time he’s scored over 20 points in his NBA career.

“He and Steve are developing a chemistry that I think is working of us,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “He has done a good job on the boards and he has been a really physical rebounder for us - which we needed - and he’s come up with some big plays for us at the end of games. I think he continues to get better and better.”

In addition, Gortat notched his fifth double-double in his last seven games by recording 11 rebounds, to go along with his two blocks. In all, the Suns put six players in double figures with Grant Hill (16 points), Vince Carter (12 points), Robin Lopez (10 points) and Channing Frye (11 points) all contributing.

However, Phoenix also got it done on the defensive end. The Suns came out of the gate flexing their defensive muscles, holding the Hornets to 39-percent shooting in the first period. For the night, Phoenix’s defense only allowed New Orleans to shoot 42 percent from the floor.

The win tonight moved the Suns to 11-0 in their last 11 Sunday home games and 4-0 in Sunday games this season. It also marked the fifth time in six games that the Suns downed the Hornets, as well as their fourth-straight win over a winning club.

The Suns improved to 8-7 in January, making it their first winning month of 2010-11.

Celebrity Shootout

10th Annual Jack in the Box Celebrity Shootout, presented by Robert and Carole Machiz, took place on Saturday in front of packed house at US Airways Center. Team orange, led by hip-hop artist Common, Arizona Cardinal player Kerry Rhodes, actor Michael B. Jordan and entertainer Chris Brown was coached by Jared Dudley and part-time assistant/full-time fan Josh Childress.

On the other bench, Grant Hill coached a Team White-squad that was anchored by musical artist Romeo, actor Pooch Hall and DJ Clue. With Team Orange trailing at the half by seven, Dudley, whose team lost last year’s game, decided to make some adjustments in the second half to prevent being defeated again, He moved last year’s shootout MVP, Common, to the point guard spot, freeing up Chris Brown to score more at the shooting guard.

Brown was also issued the challenge of guarding Romeo, Team White’s best player and former letterman at USC. Dudley said the move was designed to force players like actor Billy Blanks to shoot, while making life more difficult for Romeo.

“I was kind of like Mike D’Antoni because I shortened the rotation,” Dudley said jokingly. “Pressuring Romeo was really the turning point though.”

Team Orange ended up prevailing 60-53 over Team White, earning Dudley some decent bragging rights over Hill in the locker room. Brown took home the game's MVP for Team Orange.

Facebook Night

In addition to Sunday’s game being a classic matchup between two of the top point guards in the world, it also happened to be the second-annual Facebook Night, presented by Arizona Lottery, at US Airways Center. So what does that consist of you might ask?

Well, Suns and Arizona Lottery Facebook fans saved more than 40 percent on tickets for the Suns-Hornets contest, as well as early entry into the building to watch the Suns’ pregame warm-up. On top of that, Facebook fans received an exclusive Suns Facebook Night t-shirt, group seating for fellow Facebook fans and a private postgame Q&A session with Suns guard Vince Carter.

And if the fans happened to “like” the Arizona Lottery through this event, they would have received a free Arizona Lottery ticket that evening. The event was sold-out and the 550 fans that attended marked the largest social-media audience that the Suns have ever drawn.

During the 15-minute postgame Q&A, which was hosted by a fellow slam-dunk champ Ced Ceballos, Carter discussed his transition from Orlando after the trade, playing with Steve Nash, his All-Star dunk title, his favorite players growing up and what superpower he would like to have with the 550 fans.

When his infamous dunk over 7-2 Frederic Weis during the Sydney Olympics was brought up, he said, “It was an out-of-body experience. Honestly, when the dunk happened, I didn’t know I even jumped over him until after the game was over.

“All I remember was getting the steal, turning around, taking two dribbles and then jumping. I remember seeing him and then not seeing him anymore, so I thought he just fell down.

“After the game was over, that night, Gary Payton’s buddy had filmed it from the stands, and he showed me after the game. That’s how I actually found out I jumped over the guy.

"When I see it today, every so often, I’m still like ‘How did I do that?’”

Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.