Suns-Blazers Preview

By Jeff Mezydlo
Posted: Dec. 7, 2010

Paced by the overall play of Steve Nash, the Phoenix Suns are on the verge of their longest winning streak of the season.

Nash looks to help the Suns to a fourth consecutive victory overall and a rare win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at the Rose Garden.

Whether shooting or passing the ball, Nash has had a big hand in Phoenix's second three-game winning streak of the season.

Three nights after recording 16 assists versus Golden State to begin the winning streak, Nash had a perfect shooting performance in Sunday's 125-108 win over Washington. He went 8 of 8 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and made all three of his free-throw attempts to finish with 20 points.

Adding a season-high 17 assists, Nash made sure others continued to get involved. Hakim Warrick scored a season-high 26 points and Jason Richardson recorded his seventh straight game of at least 20 points with 21 as the Suns (11-9) shot a season-high 58.0 percent to win their third straight game and fifth in the last seven.

"(Nash) is the reason I came here," said Warrick, averaging 12.5 points in his first season with the Suns. "It makes it easy playing with Steve. All you have to do is roll to the basket and he'll find you."

Richardson has also benefited from Nash's play, averaging a team-leading 21.2 points, including 25.9 on 57.4 percent shooting over the last seven games.

"When he's feeling well, he's as good as any point guard in the league," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said of Nash, who was plagued by a variety of ailments earlier this season.

Gentry hopes Nash can continue to pace the Suns as they try to avoid a second straight loss to the Trail Blazers (9-11).

Nash had 26 points but turned the ball over nine times while Richardson added 22 points in a 106-92 season-opening loss at Portland on Oct. 26. The Suns, outscored 31-11 in the fourth quarter of that game, have lost five of six to the Blazers since winning 11 straight in the series.

Nash has done his part in the last six meetings with Portland, averaging 17.3 points and 9.0 assists.

Portland has averaged 109.8 points against Phoenix over that stretch, but only 94.7 overall this season.

While the Suns' point guard has been playing great ball, the Blazers will be without the services of theirs. Andre Miller will be serving a one-game league suspension for his role in a rough conclusion to Sunday's 100-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He earned the suspension - announced Monday - for "making excessive and unnecessary contact with Blake Griffin of the Clippers" with 7:06 left in the fourth.

Wesley Matthews scored 26 points as the Trail Blazers snapped a season-high six-game skid.

Matthews, averaging 21.0 points on 53.5 percent shooting over his last five games, carried the load while stars Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 18 points and shot 5 for 23 from the floor.

"With everything that has gone on in the last couple weeks…you just know you have to win. You have to win one. And you have to play through it and work your way through it," coach Nate McMillan told the Trail Blazers' official website.

Roy is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 37.7 percent over his last four games overall, but has posted a 32.3 scoring average in his last four home games against the Suns.

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