Steve Nash could be playing his last game in a Phoenix Suns uniform when the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs invade the desert tonight.
Nash is set to become a free agent after the Suns wrap up their disappointing 2011-12 season Wednesday, and it has been speculated that he will not return to the team. The two-time NBA MVP has been an All-Star eight times in his career -- six with the Suns -- and couldn't help his team in last night's 100-88 loss at Utah. The setback will keep Phoenix out of the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time since a three-year hiatus from 1985-88.
Jared Dudley led the Suns with 15 points, Nash added 14 and 11 assists, and Michael Redd scored 15 points off the bench. Marcin Gortat didn't do much offensively with two points, but grabbed 12 rebounds for the Suns, who had a seven-game winning streak against the Jazz come to an end. Phoenix has lost two straight and five of its last eight games.
"It's tough," said Nash. "We found a way to put ourselves in this position. We started slow, no one gave us a chance when we were 12-19 and really didn't have any answers. It could have went the other way."
Suns veteran forward Grant Hill left the game with a sore right knee and forward/center Channing Frye did not play due to a shoulder injury. The two frontcourt players could miss tonight's game.
The Suns are 19-13 at home this season.
San Antonio can afford to rest some of its starters since it already locked up the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Spurs will play back-to- back road games against Phoenix and Golden State before preparing for the postseason and are riding an eight-game winning streak.
The Spurs, who were upset as the top seed last year by Memphis in the first round, closed out a perfect three-game homestand with a 124-89 blowout of Portland on Monday behind 18 points from both Tim Duncan and Danny Green. Tony Parker chipped in 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"Everybody wants to go into the playoffs healthy and with energy and with rhythm," said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich. We're not different from anyone else so hopefully that's the position we are in."
San Antonio finished the regular season with a 28-5 mark and will try to build on its 20-11 road ledger. The Spurs are currently tied with the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the league at 48-16. The Bulls still have the Pacers and Cavaliers on their schedule.
Spurs guard Gary Neal (shoulder) is expected to miss tonight's game. The Spurs are going for a four-game season sweep of the Suns for the first time since winning all four meetings back in 2003-04. San Antonio has won 10 of the last 13 matchups between the teams.