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News » Suns-Magic Preview 2009-11-04

Suns-Magic Preview 2009-11-04

Suns-Magic Preview 2009-11-04With Steve Nash once again playing like a two-time MVP, the Phoenix Suns have been one of the league's biggest surprises through the first week of the season.

Nash looks to help the Suns open with five consecutive wins for the first time in 25 years Wednesday night when they visit the Orlando Magic, who return home after suffering their first loss.

After finishing ninth in the Western Conference last season and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004, Phoenix is one of three remaining undefeated teams in the league in 2009-10. The others - Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers - are the last two NBA champions.

The Suns posted a 104-96 victory over previously unbeaten Miami on Tuesday to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2004-05. Phoenix hasn't opened a season with five consecutive victories since 1984-85.

"We don't read anything into being 4-0. We really don't," coach Alvin Gentry said.

A big reason for the fast start has been the play of Nash.

Last season, the 35-year-old point guard averaged 15.7 points and 9.7 assists - his fewest since averaging 8.8 assists for Dallas in 2003-04 - but he's averaging 12.5 assists and 21.5 points on 54.2 percent shooting in 2009-10.

Nash, winner of consecutive MVP awards in 2004-05 and 2005-06, scored 30 points, shot 11 of 15 from the field and added eight assists against the Heat. He was clutch down the stretch, scoring 25 after halftime and making 10 of his final 11 shots over the last 27 minutes.

"He came out in that third quarter and put on a clinic," Suns forward Grant Hill said. "It was really fun to watch."

Nash averaged 20.5 points and 9.0 assists in two games against Orlando last season, when each team won on its home court.

To extend their winning streak, Nash and the Suns may want to employ the same strategy Detroit used in its 85-80 victory over the Magic (3-1) on Tuesday.

The Pistons went right after Orlando's Dwight Howard and frustrated him into fouling out in just 17 minutes. The three-time All-Star center finished with eight points and five rebounds, and along the way he re-aggravated a shoulder injury sustained in Sunday's 125-116 victory at Toronto.

"It's just very, very sore, but it is hard when you get hit so hard every night," said Howard, who averaged 21.7 points on 62.9 percent shooting and 16.0 rebounds in the first three games. "I'm a big guy, but it still hurts when I'm getting hit this much. It's getting worse, but I have to keep my composure and try not to complain. The last two games, though, I've been very close to going off."

Howard averaged 20.0 points and 7.5 boards against the Suns in 2008-09. After trading Shaquille O'Neal in the offseason, the Suns will now rely on Channing Frye and Amare Stoudemire to adequately defend Orlando's center.

If Frye and Stoudemire succeed, the Magic may need guard Jameer Nelson to pick up his production - especially considering Vince Carter is being slowed by ankle problems.

Nelson finished with seven points, six assists and five turnovers Tuesday after scoring 30 with five assists and two turnovers against the Raptors. He had 16 points in his only game against the Suns last season, a 113-112 loss Dec. 12 in Phoenix.

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 4, 2009


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