NBA Preview: Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns - Suns Favored
With Nash coming off another stellar game, the Suns look to remain unbeaten against the East's current top three teams and extend an eight-game winning streak as they face the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
Oddsmakers have made Phoenix -10.5 point spread favorites
Nash had a season-high 21 assists, becoming the first player in nine years with two 20-assist games in a season and led Phoenix (27-8) to a 109-90 win over East-leading Cleveland on Thursday night.
"It feels good for me to see my teammates succeed and score, and that's the bottom line: to get guys involved and have them make shots," Nash said. "When we get rolling offensively, we can put those other teams away."
The Suns will now try to sweep their season series with the Magic (22-15), who have the second-best record in the East.
Nash had 18 points and 15 assists as Phoenix beat Orlando 103-89 on Dec. 11 in the teams' first meeting this season. Nash is averaging 20.3 points and 13.0 assists while shooting 56 percent from the field and 46 percent from beyond the arc in his last four games against the Magic.
A win Saturday would give the Suns a 4-0 record against the East's best three teams. They beat Detroit, which is third in the conference, 108-101 on Dec. 31.
Nash, who had 20 assists against Sacramento on Dec. 5, joined current Mavericks coach Avery Johnson - who accomplished the feat with 20 assists on Dec. 10 and 17, 1997 - as the last two players to reach that total in the same season. Nash's career high is 22, coming against New York on Jan. 2, 2006.
If the reigning two-time NBA MVP continues his pace of averaging more than 20 points and 10 assists, he would become the first NBA guard to finish the season with those figures since Tim Hardaway in 1992-93.
Orlando had a five-game winning streak end Friday night with a 109-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Magic gave up over 100 points for just the ninth time this season, but are third in the league in scoring defense at 91.8 points per game.
"We tried to do our best to get the ball in the paint and score, but we couldn't stop them from scoring," Orlando forward Dwight Howard said.
Howard had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Southeast Division leaders, but also missed nine of 16 free throws. In this season's loss to Phoenix, Howard was held to four points on 2-of-6 shooting and grabbed just three boards while committing five turnovers.
Grant Hill played his third game for Orlando after missing the previous three with a sore left foot, finishing with 20 points. He's averaged 19.4 points in 16 games against the Suns.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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