Phoenix May be Without Nash When they Go to Portland Print
Written by TheSpread   
Tuesday, 06 February 2007 10:30
NBA Headline News

NBA Basketball: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trailblazers - Suns Favored

Team Page: Phoenix :: Portland

68% of Bets Placed on Phoenix -3.5 | Matchup | NBA Picks
With two-time reigning league MVP Steve Nash leading their fast-paced offense, the Phoenix Suns have become one of the league's elite teams.

The Suns may be without Nash on Tuesday, though, when they try to sweep the season series over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.

Oddsmakers have made Phoenix -3.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 188 total

points (View NBA Sports Books).

Nash aggravated his injured right shoulder in Monday's 113-108 victory over Denver, and sat out the entire second half. He finished with nine points and seven assists in just 17 minutes.

"I thought it was best to come out,'' Nash said. "It hurts when I'm moving it.''

Nash, who was named a reserve on the Western Conference All-Star team on Thursday, is the floor general for a Phoenix (38-10) team with the second-best record in the league. The five-time All-Star has helped lead the Suns to both a 15-game winning streak and a franchise-record 17-game run this season.

With Nash out of the lineup in the second half on Monday, Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa picked up the slack for the Suns, who overcame a 10-point third-quarter deficit.

Stoudemire scored 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his third straight double-double. He is averaging 29.3 points and 15.3 boards in those games.

Barbosa added 20 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the closing minutes.

"They're not much different,'' without Nash, Nuggets coach George Karl said. "(Barbosa) had a great game for them, had a great second half. He hit the big shot. It's a good imitation of Stevie Nash.''

Stoudemire, who was also named a reserve on the West All-Star team, is averaging 18.3 points on 65.6 percent shooting in three games against the Trail Blazers (20-29) this season.

The Suns can sweep the four-game season series with Portland for the second time in the last three seasons with a victory Tuesday. Phoenix has outscored the Blazers by an average of 15.4 points in this season's three matchups.

Dating back to last season, the Suns defeated Portland five straight times and nine out of 10. They are trying to win six straight in the series for the first time since Nov. 15, 1994-Nov. 18, 1995.

Raja Bell scored 18 points despite playing with a swollen knee against the Nuggets, and is averaging 20.7 points against the Blazers this season including a season-high 30 points on 7-of-12 shooting from 3-point range in a 119-101 Phoenix victory Nov. 26.

The Blazers saw their four-game home winning streak snapped Saturday, losing 88-86 to Chicago as they couldn't overcome a season-low 28-point first half.

The loss was the second straight and the third in four games for Portland, which is averaging just 45.2 first-half points - fewest in the Western Conference.

"We're too slow starting games,'' coach Nate McMillan said. "We can't wait for someone to bust us in the mouth before we respond.''

Zach Randolph had 27 points and seven rebounds against the Bulls, and is averaging 28.0 points - 4.2 points better than his season average - in his last five games.

Randolph had one of his best games of the season in the Blazers' 106-101 loss to Phoenix on Jan. 19, as he scored 36 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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