What do you think is going on in his head...? Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

A very slow Thursday for the Western Conference as only one playoff contending team took to the hardwood last night. It was the Los Angeles Clippers (33-22) and they cruised to an easy victory against the shuffling Sacramento Kings (19-36) 93-85.

With their win the Clips pick up a .5 game on the trailing Grizzlies and Mavericks to pad a 2 game lead on the race for home-court advantage in the West. The Suns are 4.5 games out of 4th... FYI.

Other than that it was a bunch of East teams including the Dwight Howard circus that played last night. For updated standings, awesome videos and irresistible links you better continue reading.

Western Conference Standings via NBA.com

Wcstandings4-6_medium

Pretty much the same as yesterday with the small exception of the Clippers gaining that .5. Peep the highlights from last night, videos are always cool - especially on FRIDAY! FRIDAY! ...

FRIDAY LINKS

Here's a collection of enjoyable reads to get you closer to the weekend the Suns at Nuggets game tonight.

Report: Gallinari targets return on Monday? - Denver Stiffs

Danilo Gallinari sets Monday as a date for his possible return to the Nuggets' lineup.

Nuggets at Hornets recap: Balanced bugs closeout Nuggets' road trip with a whimper ... - Denver Stiffs

The Nuggets concluded their seven-game road trip with another loss to the Western Conference's worst team.

Denver Nuggets hit homestretch needing hot streak - The Denver Post
The Nuggets, Rockets, Suns and Jazz are fighting for the last two spots, all within 1½ games of one another. The Nuggets and Rockets are 1½ games behind Dallas and Memphis for the fifth and six spots in the West. The Suns move into a tie with the Nuggets, who have 12 games left, if they win tonight.

The All Important Matchup With The Suns - Nugg Love - A Denver Nuggets Fan Site -

No doubt, the matchup between Nash and Lawson is important. When the two matched up last season, the Nuggets won 116-97 and Lawson had 20 points and 11 rebounds – while Nash was held to only seven points and six turnovers.

Suns continue playoff push against Nuggets -Fox Sports Arizona
The Suns will complete their three-game trip by trying to win for the fifth time in six road games. Nash, averaging 17.6 points and 11.3 assists in his last eight games in Denver, may see plenty of Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson with backup Andre Miller's status questionable. Miller was ejected Wednesday for a flagrant-2 foul on New Orleans' Carl Landry.

Suns' Sebastian Telfair, Michael Redd stepping up off the bench - Coro
"If I'm not aggressive, I'm not helping the team," Telfair said. "I was out there aggravated. I wasn't enjoying myself on the court. I thought about it and watched film. I told myself I was going to be aggressive and have fun and I played a lot better."

Steve Nash is not Dwight Howard: Suns lucky to have point guard - ArizonaSports.com
"I do know that if you start players running your franchise, I don't know where it's ever worked out," he said.

The secret behind the Phoenix Suns’ elite training staff - valleyofthesuns.com
The Phoenix Suns' training staff is renowned for keeping players healthy, particularly aging stars who seem to turn back the clock. Here's how they do it.

Hill among winners of 'Human Spirit' award
Grant Hill, Jim Calhoun, Richard Lapchick win Naismith organization's Mannie Jackson Award.

Today in NBA History: April 6 : Court Crusades
On April 6, 1995 Danny Ainge of the Phoenix Suns hit two three-pointers in a victory over the Washington Wizards, making him the third player in NBA history to reach 1,000 career three-pointers.

For more exclusive content, follow us on Twitter @Brightsidesun and "Like" us on Facebook.


Sure, Steve Nash can hit game-winners like this for another three seasons. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

When Steve Nash told ESPN's Marc Stein he'd like to sign a new 3-year contract this summer and then possibly another contract after that, jaws dropped at the thought that Nash believes he can still be a productive NBA point guard up to and past age 40. The list of players who have played effectively into their late 30s and early 40s is short, and mostly includes big men.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Dikembe Mutombo and Robert Parish are among the legendary post players who were able to extend their NBA careers past age 40, with Abdul-Jabbar and Parish each starting over 70 games during the seasons started when they were 40. The iconic Abdul-Jabbar went on to start 74 games as a 41-year old in his last NBA season, and Parish completed his 21st and final season as a bit player at age 42.

None of these players, of course, had games that in any way resemble Nash's. However, there is one Hall of Fame player who retired at age 41, a player who started and produced at point guard until the end, a player with whom Nash has been compared for much of his career: John Stockton.

If ever there was a chance to put that comparison to the test, a look at superstar point guards at the end of their careers is it. And the good news is that Stockton saw almost no decline in production as he played into his golden years.

Let's dive into some data after the jump.

The goal of this research is to assess the Suns current situation and whether Stockton's late-career performance can act as a guide as we estimate what Nash will be able to accomplish in the next three years. The topic of which player is/was better between Nash and Stockton will be discussed for years and is best left for another day, after Nash's playing days are over.

It's easy to see the similarities between the players, with both drafted in the middle of the first round from mid-major west coast colleges (Nash from Santa Clara, Stockton from Gonzaga) and then going on to star in small to mid-market NBA cities Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

But there are significant differences in their games. While Nash's play can be described as a work of art, filled with spectacular passes in a run and gun scheme, Stockton was a tough as nails, bring your lunch pail to work type. This is not a knock on Stockton whatsoever. He produced more than Nash by most measures, and his teams won big and won consistently, making the NBA Finals twice but unable to overcome Michael Jordan's Bulls each time.

Stockton is the NBA's all-time leader in assists and steals, and that assist record isn't going to be broken any time soon. In sixth place, Nash is nearly 5000 behind Stockton's 15,806 and even second place Jason Kidd is well behind at under 12,000.

Durability, along with sustained excellence, was what allowed Stockton to put up such numbers. Incredibly, he played all 82 games in 16 of his 19 seasons (all 50 in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign) and only missed 22 games total out of a possible 1,526, meaning he played in 98.5% of the games he possibly could have over his career.

Nash hasn't missed many games either, starting over 70 in every season since 1999-00 and not hitting his career peak until his early 30s. Stockton got a head start on Nash, but the production of the two has been similarly steady through their 30s, as can be seen in this chart.

Nash_and_stockton_medium

{Some notes about this chart: First, the usual disclaimer that no single stat can tell a player's overall value, but win shares is about as close as it gets. Age is defined as the age of the player at the start of the season used, and I used total win shares per season rather than WS/48 since durability is important here. The ability to dependably produce is key, so bottom line production matters. I also adjusted Stockton's 98-99 season to prorate for the games missed due to the lockout, and adjusted Nash's in the same way for this season.}

Each player had a bit of a mid-30s dip, as Nash suffered through the Porter/Shaq phase and Stockton his one major injury that took 18 games from him in his age 35 season. Nash also hasn't produced at his peak levels of the "7 Seconds or Less" Suns since the pieces of that team have moved away around him, but has still been close to his career average over the last four seasons.

Look at Stockton's final five seasons. But for a slight dip in the last year, he produced much as he had for the rest of his career. Here's a look at those seasons in basic stats, compared to career averages.

Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
1984-85 22 UTA NBA 82 5 18.2 1.9 4.1 .471 0.0 0.1 .182 1.7 2.4 .736 0.3 1.0 1.3 5.1 1.3 0.1 1.8 2.5 5.6
1985-86 23 UTA NBA 82 38 23.6 2.8 5.7 .489 0.0 0.2 .133 2.1 2.5 .839 0.4 1.8 2.2 7.4 1.9 0.1 2.0 2.8 7.7
1986-87 24 UTA NBA 82 2 22.7 2.8 5.6 .499 0.1 0.5 .179 2.2 2.8 .782 0.4 1.5 1.8 8.2 2.2 0.2 2.0 2.7 7.9
1987-88 25 UTA NBA 82 79 34.7 5.5 9.6 .574 0.3 0.8 .358 3.3 4.0 .840 0.7 2.2 2.9 13.8 3.0 0.2 3.2 3.0 14.7
1988-89 26 UTA NBA 82 82 38.7 6.1 11.3 .538 0.2 0.8 .242 4.8 5.5 .863 1.0 2.0 3.0 13.6 3.2 0.2 3.8 2.9 17.1
1989-90 27 UTA NBA 78 78 37.4 6.1 11.8 .514 0.6 1.4 .416 4.5 5.5 .819 0.7 1.9 2.6 14.5 2.7 0.2 3.5 3.0 17.2
1990-91 28 UTA NBA 82 82 37.8 6.0 11.9 .507 0.7 2.0 .345 4.4 5.3 .836 0.6 2.3 2.9 14.2 2.9 0.2 3.6 2.8 17.2
1991-92 29 UTA NBA 82 82 36.6 5.5 11.5 .482 1.0 2.5 .407 3.8 4.5 .842 0.8 2.5 3.3 13.7 3.0 0.3 3.5 2.9 15.8
1992-93 30 UTA NBA 82 82 34.9 5.3 11.0 .486 0.9 2.3 .385 3.6 4.5 .798 0.8 2.1 2.9 12.0 2.4 0.3 3.2 2.7 15.1
1993-94 31 UTA NBA 82 82 36.2 5.6 10.6 .528 0.6 1.8 .322 3.3 4.1 .805 0.9 2.3 3.1 12.6 2.4 0.3 3.2 2.9 15.1
1994-95 32 UTA NBA 82 82 35.0 5.2 9.6 .542 1.2 2.8 .449 3.0 3.7 .804 0.7 2.4 3.1 12.3 2.4 0.3 3.3 2.6 14.7
1995-96 33 UTA NBA 82 82 35.5 5.4 10.0 .538 1.2 2.7 .422 2.9 3.4 .830 0.7 2.1 2.8 11.2 1.7 0.2 3.0 2.5 14.7
1996-97 34 UTA NBA 82 82 35.3 5.1 9.3 .548 0.9 2.2 .422 3.4 4.0 .846 0.5 2.2 2.8 10.5 2.0 0.2 3.0 2.4 14.4
1997-98 35 UTA NBA 64 64 29.0 4.2 8.0 .528 0.6 1.4 .429 3.0 3.6 .827 0.5 2.0 2.6 8.5 1.4 0.2 2.5 2.2 12.0
1998-99 36 UTA NBA 50 50 28.2 4.0 8.2 .488 0.3 1.0 .320 2.7 3.4 .811 0.6 2.3 2.9 7.5 1.6 0.3 2.2 2.1 11.1
1999-00 37 UTA NBA 82 82 29.7 4.4 8.8 .501 0.5 1.5 .355 2.7 3.1 .860 0.5 2.1 2.6 8.6 1.7 0.2 2.2 2.3 12.1
2000-01 38 UTA NBA 82 82 29.2 4.0 7.9 .504 0.7 1.6 .462 2.8 3.4 .817 0.7 2.1 2.8 8.7 1.6 0.3 2.5 2.4 11.5
2001-02 39 UTA NBA 82 82 31.3 4.9 9.5 .517 0.3 1.0 .321 3.4 3.9 .857 0.7 2.5 3.2 8.2 1.9 0.3 2.5 2.5 13.4
2002-03 40 UTA NBA 82 82 27.7 3.8 7.8 .483 0.4 1.0 .363 2.9 3.5 .826 0.6 1.8 2.5 7.7 1.7 0.2 2.2 2.2 10.8
Career NBA 1504 1300 31.8 4.7 9.1 .515 0.6 1.5 .384 3.2 3.9 .826 0.6 2.1 2.7 10.5 2.2 0.2 2.8 2.6 13.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/5/2012.

Now, Nash vs. Stockton at the same age of 37, AKA current Nash.

Rk Player Season Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
1 Steve Nash 2011-12 37 50 50 32.5 4.9 9.2 .538 0.9 2.4 .398 2.0 2.2 .883 0.4 2.7 3.1 11.2 0.7 0.1 3.6 0.9 12.8
2 John Stockton* 1999-00 37 82 82 29.7 4.4 8.8 .501 0.5 1.5 .355 2.7 3.1 .860 0.5 2.1 2.6 8.6 1.7 0.2 2.2 2.3 12.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/5/2012.

Current Nash is outperforming a 37-year old Stockton in assists and shooting percentage and, while it's true that Nash has never had the amazing durability of Stockton and has been hindered by occasional flare-ups of his back and groin, Nash has a lot less mileage on him than Stockton did at the same age.

Heading into his age 38 season, Stockton had played 46,448 minutes. Pending the final 12 games of this season, Nash has played 40,023, a difference of about two full seasons. So Nash should theoretically have more left in his tank. Watching him play this season, but for a couple of bumps in the road, he passes the eyeball test.

All of which is to say that, while what Nash will attempt to do is rarely achieved, it's not unprecedented. Nobody can tell the future, especially with regards to injuries, but there are no obvious reasons he can't continue his current level of play for at least another couple of seasons.

It would be easy to say that Nash won't be able to produce effectively in three years at age 41, but how many thought he'd be able to play three more good years when he was 35? Or even 30? Just ask Mark Cuban.

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PHOENIX — Channing Frye entered the penultimate game of last season in one of his patented shooting slumps. The Suns’ big man had misfired on 30 of his previous 39 three-pointers and 52 of his...

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Steve Nash hit two huge shots to overcome one bad mistake and beat the Jazz in a BIG road win. In this week's episode we discuss the win in Utah, update the playoff standings, talk about how good the Suns really are, and talk a little about the LeBron and Durant MVP race.

Hosted by Bryan Gibberman and Seth Pollack and presented by Arizona Sports 620 and SB Nation Arizona.

Subscribe on iTunes or stream online after the jump.

Stream it, peeps


Gortat DID wrestle that 9th seed away from Utah and stuffed it in their grill!Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Are you not entertained!?!??!

The Phoenix Suns are on a roll, going 16-7 in their last 23 games and facing their playoff competition every night through the end of the season. The Suns control their destiny. If they win most of their remaining games, the playoffs will be theirs. And Suns fans can start debating the merits of each potential opponent.

After beating the Utah Jazz last night, the Suns are in 9th place in the West, only ONE game behind the 7th and 8th seeds (Denver and Houston). Plus, the Suns are only 2.5 games back of Memphis and Dallas, who are currently tied for 5th. Any of those last 4 seeds are reachable. Remember that the Suns were 2.5 games back of 8th just a few days ago.

First things first: Denver and Houston.

The Suns play Denver twice more this season - once in Denver on Friday night, and once more in Phoenix in a couple weeks. They also play Houston once more, in Houston.

If the Suns beat Denver on Friday night and the Rockets lose to the Lakers, the Suns will be in ...

drum roll please ...

7th place!

9th place... tied with Denver and Houston, but currently losing the first tiebreak with them).

But hey, only one more Suns win and Denver and Houston losses from 7th!

(you can take brian13 for bursting my morning bubble on the 7th place idea)

Hit the jump for the standings and some more analysis on each team's upcoming schedule.

Standings_medium

Check out these current standings, folks, and enjoy them while for a minute. Take a deep breath and appreciate the Suns in 9th place in the West.

Because in a mere two days, the Suns might very well jump all the way to 7th, if they beat Denver and Houston loses to LA Lakers on Friday night.

Now a look at remaining schedules:

Six of the Suns' last 12 games are on the road, with toughies in that 12 including two against Denver, two against San Antonio, plus the Jazz, Lakers, Wolves, Grizz, Dragons, Clips and Thunder. The only "easy" game in their last 12 is against the tanking Blazers. A gauntlet, for sure. The Suns HAVE to win more than half of these games and hope someone ahead of them falls on their face in turn.

10th-place Utah's upcoming sked gets tough: two Spurs games, plus Suns, Rockets, Grizz and Mavs among their final 12.

The next biggest obstacle to the Suns' playoff hopes are the Houston Dragons. They play at the LA Lakers on Friday as part of seven of their final 12 games on the road. Toughies include @Lakers, Jazz, Suns, home-and-home against the Nuggs, @Dallas and @Miami. The Suns basically need Houston to lose two more of those toughies than the Suns.

Denver is also a team the Suns could catch. Six of their last 12 are on the road, after losing to New Orleans last night. Toughies among their final 12 include home-and-home against the Suns, home-and-home against the Dragons, home-and-home against the Wolves, plus Lakers, Clips, Magic and OKC. That's a tough schedule.


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