The Milwaukee Bucks were on their way to spoiling Michael Redd’s homecoming and blowing out Steve Nash’s birthday candles early. But after the Suns blew a 21-point second-half lead, the...

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The best Sun ever. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Happy Birthday, Steve Nash, you hit the game winner tonight on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks.

How fitting.

The Phoenix Suns were 35-5 against the Milwaukee Bucks since the '91-'92 season entering tonight's game. It looked as though they were in for their 36th W after two quarters of play when something typical happened. After scoring 67 points in the first half, the Suns suddenly lost momentum, putting up 40 in the final two quarters while giving up 55 to the Bucks.

What should have been an easy road win turned out to be a nailbiter for the Phoenix Suns. But none of that matters when it's Steve Nash's birthday.

In the first half the Suns were looking a bit like the 7SOL Suns. They ran, they made shots, they scored 67 points on 62% shooting. Michael Redd scored 12 while Nash went for 13 and 5. The Suns went 5-9 from beyond the arc and befuddled the Bucks for 24 minutes. Even the Suns' defense stepped up, limiting the Bucks to 20 second quarter points.

But in the 3rd quarter, the Suns gave up runs of 12-0, 8-0, and 6-0. The Suns' 17 point lead dwindled to 7 at the end of the third. In the fourth, the Bucks continued on a 17-2 run. The Suns helped the Bucks out by missing 9 of 10 field goal attempts in the first four minutes of the final stanza. Brandon Jennings took his second shot of the game, a 3, and promptly nailed it to give the Bucks a 3 point lead.

Of course it was Nashty to the rescue for the Phoenix Suns. After an incredible save off a Channing Frye block, Nash hit a running 3 to give the Suns a 2 point lead. After 2 Bucks free throws, the game was tied with 5 ticks left on the clock.

Enter the Nashty who drove to to the right side of the hoop for a running 6 footer. GAME OVER. A fitting climax to what must have been one of the happiest 38th birthdays in recent history. Thank you, Steve Nash

Worth Noting

  • Josh Childress: 12 rebounds, 3 assists in 16 minutes. Just watch the guy. He's everywhere, a pest with a nose for the ball. We may just get our money's worth out of this guy. Hopefully
  • Jared Dudley: 7-9 from the field, 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Marcin Gortat 21 and 9
  • Channing Frye: 14 points, 5 rebounds on 6-12 shooting
  • Grant Hill: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Michael Redd: 14 points, 4 rebounds on 7-14 shooting in 20 minutes of play.
  • Phoenix Suns: 48 points in the paint against 22 Buck points in the paint

Thoughts, Opinions, Observations

It's never nice to lose a 19 point lead and have to eke out a W in the final seconds. But any win on the road is a good win. The Bucks were 7-3 on their home court, and even if Scott Skiles refused to let Brandon Jennings take a shot (to prove some insane point or what have you), a W in the W column is sweet especially on the second night of back to backs.

The good news for the Suns is Josh Childress is contributing in that Lou Amundson kind of way. Getting his mitts on rebounds, playing D, being the dirtworker the second unit needs. But wait, there's more good news! Channing Frye's shot is starting to fall. And as many of you posted yesterday, when Frye hits shots, the Suns transform into a much better team. OH WAIT, there's even more good news! Michael Freakin' Redd is starting to gain confidence and hit shots. He's 16-35 from the field in the last three games which is an incredible improvement. Even Robin Lopez is contributing without throwing any hissy fits.

Heck, if this continues, we might all start feeling a tad optimistic.

Enjoy, Suns fans, the Suns have won 3 in a row and return home with a score to settle against the Houston Rockets.

Quotable:

Steve Nash

"It was a pretty formidable win under pretty formidable circumstances."

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Suns vs Bucks coverage

Suns vs Bucks preview

Brew Hoop

Quarter by Quarter Notes

1st

Drew Gooden scoring at will

Gortat feeling it

Bucks start off 7-12

Nash aggressive on offensive end

Every Sun starter has scored

Michael Redd enters to applause. No SO. Just applause

Suns 11-2 run in 2 minute span

"They're cookin'" says Eddie Johnson, one of my personal idols.

Suns playing confident, with excellent pace

Redd cant play defense. no big surprise. Delfino makes him look like a statue

Morris and Chill enter. Flagrant on Gooden for being a dick. "meltdown effect," says EJ. Totally

Redd could be a hero tonight, feeling comfy with the floor and rims in MIL.

Really thought Nash would go bald. I wish I had his hair. Not gonna lie.

Illysova drops 35 footer to end quarter. Suns 34-30, shooting 64% from field.

2nd

Lopez and Bassy two man game pays off with Lopez hook

Redd clearly finding his stroke with smooth 2

Chill picking up all the loose balls. 5 boards in 5 minutes

More Redd with a 10 footer off the boards

More Redd with a 15 footer, Suns bench going nuts. Leading scoreers w 10

Bucks not making shots and not getting second chances.

More Redd, more Redd, MORE REDD! SUNS UP BY 12

Leander calls Stephen Jackson "salty," which is a really dumb way to say the guy is pissed. Anyway, the guy is acting like a dick which is no surprise.

Redd shooting at will bricks a 3. Slow it down Miachael.

Bucks look angry. Here comes the run.

Bucks on 10-2 run (see I called it!)

Starters back in.

Frye hits 3.

Leander points out Nash shares birthday with Ashton Kutcher. uh, who cares?

Nash hits, 6-7. 15-19 in two games thus far.

Gortat bucket, Suns have scored 60 in first half. A good sign

Bucks looking confused on D

I hate commercials

Frye's shot is very very close to being normal. This is good for the Suns

Dudley 2 brings Suns lead to 17

Frye insane tip in from about 10 ft away off Hill miss

Can Suns hit 70? 65 in the second with 28 ticks left

Suns 67-50 at half, shooting 62% from the field.

3rd

Gortat gathers Dudz miss for dunk, suns up by 19

More Gortat, lefty hook Suns by 21

8-0 run by Bucks

Suns respond with 6-0 run on Hill layup off Mil TO.

Bucks on 6-0 run, 86-73 Suns

Chill all over the boards. 10 mts, 10 boards

Bucks 12-0 run 88-81 Suns

Lots of sighs, here we go again.

31-21 Bucks in 3rd

4th

Momentum shift, 17-2 run by Bucks going back to 3rd quarter

Dunleavy with 2nd 3, Suns up 90-89

Lopez 20 foot brick? Why?

Jackson 3, 92-90 Bucks 7+ mts left

Bucks can't miss now

Suns 1/10 from field in first 4 mts of 4th

J Chill is everywhere on the bright side

Anyone want an 11 year old cat?

Dudz 3 94-93 Mil

Suns cant hit a shot

Frye in at crunch time hits long 2.

Dudz 3, Suns up 98-96 with 4 mts left

Jennings second shot of the game a 3, 101-98 Bucks

Frye block Nash incredible save, Nash hits 3, 103-101 with 2 mt left

I hate my job

Gortat 2 Suns 105-103 1.21 left

Mil with 4 tries at a basket hit two FT's 105 all, 44.7 left

Hill miss, Suns off rebound. TO Suns 20.2 left

Nash hits driving layup 107-105 with 5 ticks left. HAPPY FREAKIN B-DAY!

Bucks cant get a shot off. GAME OVER MAN! SUNS WIN

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RT @SteveNash I can't believe all the bday love from you good hearted people! When you give you shall receive so keep your hands up today!

Here's the slate of BSOS love:

Let's go get two in a row, y'all

SUNS P BUCKS
MARCIN GORTAT C DREW GOODEN
GRANT HILL F CARLOS DELFINO
CHANNING FRYE F LUC MBAH A MOUTE
STEVE NASH G BRANDON JENNINGS
JARED DUDLEY G SHAUN LIVINGSTON


I'll always root for this guy.

The lovefest will continue because Steve Nash day isn't quite over yet. If you don't like it, then I guess you're just not a good person.

Over the course of this season, we've seen what can be gently described as sub-par, boring basketball from a declining Suns franchise. Our own fans are calling the team "boring to watch".

Boring to watch. Wow. That's the one thing that we've never been before. That's one of the reasons I root for this team through the thick and the thin. The other reason to keep watching? Super Steve. When he handed out his 6,519th assist at the Hornets game on Wednesday, becoming the Suns' all-time assists leader, I was there giving him a standing ovation. The way he plays the game, and the way he views life, is all about the assists, as Wil's article on him earlier today mentions.

Throughout this thus-far painful season, Steve has been a constant. He brings it every night, and in the midst of speculation and endless Bleacher Report articles detailing which 10 teams would be best for him, he refuses to even discuss which teams other than the Suns he would like to play for. He refuses to ask for a trade, like so many NBA superstars have been doing in recent years. He's a truly loyal player who wants to win, yes, but also wants to have the best team chemistry possible.

So keep your heads held high this season, Suns fans, and remember who it is that you're watching.

I became an NBA and Suns fan primarily because of Steve Nash. The high-powered Phoenix offense and locker room camaraderie drew me in, and I haven't looked back since. Steve is the driving force behind both of those things. On Bright Side of the Sun, there are 34 active members with "Nash" somewhere in their username. I have a Nash Suns shirt that I bought in Jerusalem, Israel. The man's influence is worldwide and that is evident in the international membership of BSOTS.

But, of course, Steve wouldn't admit that he has this kind of influence. He'd emphasize the Suns as a team and an organization, not as an entity, a brand, and an idea that has revolved around one person in particular over the last eight years.

So here's to Steve. Hit him up on twitter @SteveNash if you're into that kind of thing.

Steve-nash-twitter_medium

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Who can forget this, as Nash only required one open eye in game 4 to help the Suns complete the sweep of the Spurs in 2010?

If you thought the Steve Nash lovefest was complete after Seth's story extolling Nash's virtuoso performance so far this season, and Wil's respect for Nash the philanthropist, you were mistaken. Those things are all great, and appropriate as we celebrate the man on his birthday, but let's get down to business here. Steve Nash has had a tremendous playing career in Phoenix, and my position is that he's the franchise's best player ever.

When he returned to Phoenix from Dallas, the Suns were a 29-53 team, with the 21st rated offense in the league. In his first season back, 2004-2005, the Suns won 62 games with the NBA's best offense, making the Western Conference Finals only to lose to the eventual league champion San Antonio Spurs. Another 60-win season, two 50-win seasons and two more conference finals appearances followed as Nash won league MVP twice.

As regular readers here know, I've been following the Suns since I was a child and the team featured Paul Westphal and Walter Davis. No offense intended to those who are only Suns fans due to Nash being on the team, but that is not me. I saw the MacLeod teams, the Cotton teams, the Westphal as coach teams. In short, I'm not throwing this "greatest ever" label around lightly.

Nash has earned it through consistently excellent production, steady and solid leadership, loyalty and international star quality. With all due respect to Kevin Johnson, Charles Barkley, Amare Stoudemire and Walter Davis, Nash is the gold standard among all Suns players, past and present.

Jump it for the details!

The criteria I'm using for this title is accumulated greatness. While Nash is the only Suns player to win two league MVP awards, I'd rate Charles Barkley's 1992-93 season as the greatest individual season by a Suns player. After joining the Suns, Barkley won an Olympic Gold Medal on the Dream Team, then made the all-star team, won league MVP and led the Suns to the 92-93 NBA Finals as he averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game that year. That was amazing, and also the most fun I've ever had as a Suns fan.

Barkley burned brighter, but he didn't burn as long in Phoenix. Players like Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire were spectacular in their own rights. Sadly, in the end, they chose not to be members of the team. Nash measures well in individual success, team success, longevity, loyalty and leadership. Among them all, he is the total package. Let's look at some numbers, courtesy of Basketball Reference:

Suns career achievements, ranking among NBA's best all-time

  • Two-time NBA MVP, finished second another season
  • Thrice 1st-team all-NBA, twice 2nd-team all-NBA
  • 5 all-star game appearances
  • 10th all-time in made 3-pointers
  • 8th all-time in 3-point %
  • 2nd all-time in FT%
  • 6 times led the league in assists
  • 11th all-time in true shooting % (accounts for 2-point, 3-point and FT shooting)
  • One of only five players in "50-40-90 Club". Only Nash and Larry Bird have achieved 50% FG shooting, 40% 3-point shooting and 90% FT shooting in more than one season.

I used only Nash's 9+ seasons in Phoenix for the annual honors (all-star games, etc.) but his entire career for his total career achievements. It's easy to see that he is the best passing point guard of his era and one of the best of all-time. A strong argument can also be made that Nash is the greatest shooter of all-time. He's certainly at least in the conversation.

When looking at Suns career leaders, it can be tricky because you have sheer volume stats (games played, total FGs made) and then you have stats like win shares/48 minutes which reward a player such as Charles Barkley, who had a spectacular but relatively short (four seasons) career in Phoenix.

There are cases to be made for several other former Suns players for the "best ever" label, Barkley among them, but also more contemporary players like Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, all-time franchise leading scorer Walter Davis, and Kevin Johnson.

Here's how Nash rates among Suns' franchise leaders:

  • 1st in offensive rating
  • 2nd in total offensive win shares (KJ is 1st, but Nash will pass him soon)
  • 3rd in total win shares (Shawn Marion is 1st, KJ is 2nd)
  • 5th in win shares/48 minutes (behind Barkley, Stoudemire, KJ and Marion)
  • 3rd in effective FG %, which takes 3 point shots counting for 3 points into account. The only players ahead of Nash here are Mark West and Shaquille O'Neal, both of whom scored nearly all of their points around the basket.
  • 1st in made 3-pointers
  • 1st in 3-point %
  • 5th in Player Efficiency Rating, PER (behind Barkley, Stoudemire, Westphal and KJ)
  • 1st in total assists
  • 3rd in assists per game (narrowly behind Jason Kidd and KJ)
  • 7th in total points scored (Walter Davis is far ahead of him here, but Davis was known as a pure scorer. He's also the franchise leader in field goal attempts while Nash is only 6th.

What we see here again is that Nash is an elite shooter and passer, but doesn't stack up to the rest as a pure scorer or defender. I'm going to look at this as a process of elimination. I simply cannot call Barkley the greatest player in franchise history when he played only four seasons before forcing his way out of town, as fantastic as he was during those seasons.

Marion and Stoudemire also left Phoenix under less-than ideal circumstances and burned some bridges on the way out. Additionally I would say, of those three players, Nash is the one whose production continues at closer to the same rate than the other two since they've parted ways. I will confidently say Nash is the best player of those three.

Walter Davis was phenomenal, but if I'm including leadership and loyalty, Davis' exit from the Suns in the disgrace of a drug scandal earns him a major demerit.

This leaves me with Kevin Johnson vs. Steve Nash. I can't find much negative to say about Kevin Johnson, but if there is one criticism it's that he had injury problems during the middle to late part of his career, and those compromised his production and consistency. I loved KJ as a player, and he stacks up the closest to Nash in all areas.

Still, I give the edge to Nash. KJ wasn't as consistently dominant throughout his career, making only three all-star games and finishing no higher than 7th in MVP voting. In his second stint in Phoenix, Nash has been one of the league's best point guards every season, even with a revolving cast around him. Now, at age 38, he remains the best passing point guard in the NBA. Phenomenal.

So, there we have it: Steve Nash, elite shooter, elite passer, elite team leader, 2-time MVP,

Greatest Phoenix Suns Player Ever

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