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Nash posted 27 points and 15 assists in Wednesday's loss to Charlotte.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
Posted: Jan. 28, 2011

Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash are the top two assist leaders in the NBA. It's only Rondo and the Boston Celtics, though, who are among the top teams in the league.

Nash and the Phoenix Suns aren't close.

Rondo looks to help the Celtics win consecutive road games for the first time in over a month when they face the struggling Suns in the continuation of this West Coast trip Friday night.

Rondo leads the league with 12.7 assists per game, while Nash is second with 11.0 after finishing atop the NBA with the same average last season.

Nash, though, also leads the Suns (20-24) with a qualifying average of 17.3 points compared to Rondo's 10.6. However, Rondo's contributions are a big reason why the Celtics (35-10) lead the Eastern Conference by four games over Chicago and Miami.

Phoenix is 11th in the West, 3 1/2 games back of Portland for the final playoff position.

While the Suns are hoping to mount a run at a second consecutive postseason berth, Boston is trying to widen its gap atop the East by showing some improvement on the road.

The Celtics have dropped four of seven as the visitor since a six-game winning streak Nov. 22-Dec. 15. They're trying to regain that success away from home after opening this four-game trip with an 88-78 victory over Portland on Thursday, holding the Trail Blazers to 36.7 percent from the floor.

Rondo is also trying to show some improvement on the road after he had 11 points and five assists Thursday. Over the last four meetings with Phoenix, he's averaging 20.5 points and 9.0 assists.

The Celtics dropped both meetings to the Suns last season, losing 116-98 at Phoenix on Dec. 30, 2009, while Paul Pierce was sidelined with a knee injury.

Pierce, Boston's leader with 19.0 points per game, is averaging 25.3 over his last 10 games at US Airways Center, but it's unclear if he'll play Friday. The swingman claims he's been bothered by a sore ankle hurt during Tuesday's win over Cleveland, and said he suffered a sore knee against the Blazers.

"We'll check it out and see how it feels," he said. "Hopefully by then it won't be too bad."

The Suns are trying to avoid matching their season-high four-game slide from last month. They lost their third in a row Wednesday, failing to score in the final 3:02 to fall 114-107 to Charlotte in the opener of this five-game homestand.

"We have to do better at finishing games," coach Alvin Gentry said. "The bottom line is that there was 1:17 to go and we never got possession of the ball on three missed shots."

Nash is looking to build on one of his best performances of the season. He scored 27 points on 11 of 15 from the field, sinking all four 3-point attempts, and added 15 assists against the Bobcats.

He's averaging 14.8 points and 10.0 assists in the last eight meetings with Boston.

Phoenix could use some consistency from Vince Carter, who had 22 points on Wednesday to finish four shy of his total from the previous four games when he shot 25.0 percent from the floor and 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. The swingman made 8 of 17 shots - 5 of 8 from 3-point range - against the Bobcats.

Carter is averaging 24.3 points his last six meetings with Boston.

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