Keep pushing, Steve! Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

It's Friday the 13th! Don't be scared, but I'd watch my back if I were you ...

Nothing scary to report on the playoff standings this morning, at least, as only the higher and lower seeds played last night. Memphis followed up it's big win over Phoenix with a loss to San Antonio, the Clippers beat Minny and Dallas beat Golden State.

Here's the standings today:


The Suns are still two games back of anything, but this weekend will tell a whole lot about the Suns' future. While the Suns are playing tough roadies, the other teams bunched around the Suns will play some tough games as well.

Suns face Houston, while Utah faces New Orleans (with Gordon) and Denver faces the Lakers. Hope for good news tonight.

Steve Nash, Assistant GM

Steve Nash has made it public that he wants to return to the Phoenix Suns. But there is a caveat. He wants some more talent to play with. Nash's feelings are clearly understandable. It would make very little sense for him to sign on for the remainder of his career carrying a .500 or less ball club on his creaky back for 82 games.

We have all understood that ever since the brief Porter/Shaq debacle that the front office has realized that keeping Steven happy is an excellent policy to maintain. Now more than ever the idea rings true. The Suns, with no starting PG waiting in the wings are stuck creating organizational decisions based on the desires of their 38-year old future Hall of Fame point guard.

It's pretty clear that Nash is as close to a player/GM as there is in the league. As such, this off season should be busy for the Phoenix Suns. There are a few dollars in the coffer and plenty of needs on the court. The question I am considering is:

"Who of the current Suns on expiring deals does Steve Nash want to bring back for next season?"

  • Shannon Brown - Brown came to Phoenix to play next to Steve Nash with the hopes of having a career year and thus, cash in. Who could blame him? After losing the 2 guard spot to Jared Dudley out of camp, Brown started the season slow and ugly. Yet since being inserted into the starting lineup, Brown has been the go to scorer for the Suns. He's scored in double figures in 10 straight games. He's young, athletic, a finisher. The Suns could do a lot worse than Brown as their starting 2 guard. Problem is, he's going to want 3-5 years and a significant pay increase. I would like to bring him back, but he may not be worth what he asks (just a hunch).
  • Sebastian Telfair - Not unlike Brown, Telfair started slow, and at times was absolutely awful. He struggled to find his shot and create for teammates. Watching Bassy dribble off 18 seconds of the shot clock and then hoist up brick after brick was infuriating. But he's been more consistent in the second half of the season, his defense is tenacious, and while he still has the tendency to dribble too much, he has shown signs that he could be a decent PG off the pine. Thing is, you have to figure he'll see more and more court time as Nash ages. Can he improve as Nash declines? I would think Bassy is tired of moving around, team to team. I'm thinking he'd love to stay for a few more years, and he'd continue to be pretty cheap. I wouldn't mind bringing him back.
  • Grant Hill - BAMF wants to continue playing. And if he does, you can bet Nash wants to play with him. But how many games do you expect him to play over the next few years? If it's a condition of Nash returning, it's a non-issue. Pay him fairly with incentives for numbers and games played. He is a defensive specialist and still a very good player. You have to bring him back.
  • Michael Redd - this is an interesting one. He's bound to be cheap instant offense off the bench along with veteran leadership. Again we're talking huge injury risk. But another 1 year deal with an option could work. I could see Redd wanting to stay with Aaron Nelson, Gentry, Nash and Hill. Still, he doesn't add to the Suns youth. Let him go.
  • Ronnie Price - You fill out your roster with Ronnie Price on the cheap. I like his defense, but thats about it. He was a one year rental. Let him go.
  • Robin Lopez - a big man with some skills is hard to come by. Robin didn't get his extension mid year, and it's understandable due to performance and behavior. He didn't get dealt at the trade deadline, which could mean that the Suns want to evaluate him based on a full, healthy season before deciding what he's worth. Or, it could mean no one was all that interested. He seems to have settled in to his back up role. I see Lopez maturing and solidifying the second unit up front. With his injury history he could be a career backup, playing 15 minutes per game. And that may suit him and the Suns just fine. Re-sign him.
Those are Wil's thoughts. But what does Steve Nash want?

Apr 11, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (13) drive against Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) in the first half at the FedEx Forum.

Well - As you could probably tell from my tone in last night's post game coverage, I feel with the loss last night to the Grizzlies - the Suns have severely damaged their playoff hopes. They now sit two games outside of the playoff picture in the 10th spot in the Western Conference as Utah's win last night over Houston leap-frogs them over the Suns into the 9th position.

There are only 8 games left in the regular season and all of them against quality opponents. You be the judge... I won't lose all hope until they are statistically eliminated but the Suns face the most difficult schedule to finish out the season among WC playoff hopefuls. Add to that the recent struggles of the starting unit and I'm not sure they have enough left in the tank to make a miracle push.

Suns Schedule

Believe me. I hope I'm wrong. More after the jump.

Here are your Western Conference Standings via


For a full scoreboard of last night's game - check out's cool little page here

Now for the pertinent West games last night?

Jazz Vs. Rockets Post Game Thread -- The only thing left was to dunk on Chase again, but Jeremy is injured - SLC Dunk
Game 59: Utah Jazz 103 @ Houston Rockets 91

As a team the Jazz shot 51.3 fg%, went 6/14 from downtown (42.9 3pt%), and were able to overcome Houston going 25/29 from their Free throw line. For the bad guys they were paced by Goran Dragic who finished with 19 and 7, and missed all 5 of his threes. Chase Budinger went 1/7 from downtown. Kyle Lowry went 1/3. Over all, I'll take it.

Grizzlies 104, Suns 93: Is Rudy Gay a SOV reader? - Straight Outta Vancouver

Rudy Gay was being guarded by Jared Dudley because Grant Hill, Phoenix's best perimeter defender, was out with an injury. While Dudley is a decent defender, he can't hope to contain Gay. However, prior to last night's game, Rudy had yet to break the 30-point threshold this season. As of late, the Grizzlies have relied on a balanced attack, would he be aggressive knowing that he could get anything he wanted against his defender? Rudy's line for the night: 32 points (13-20 FG, 6-6 FT), 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block.

Timberwolves Vs. Nuggets recap: Gallinari, Lawson big down the stretch in win - Denver Stiffs
Nuggets Win 113-107

Denver probably didn't need to knock out Kevin Love to pick up this win. Nonetheless, it was an important win for Denver, one that moved them into a three-way tie for the final three playoff spots in the West. In Love's absence, Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams combined for 55 points. I am as terrified as you are. Nuggets win 113-107

On the Eastern Conference side of things... Who cares? Just kidding - if you're that interested check out Tom Ziller's great post at the hub -

NBA Playoff Picture: Do We Have Our 8 In The East? - From Our Editors -
What ramifications did Wednesday's action have on the NBA playoff race?

Aaaand if you have ADD - here's some shiny video for yesterday's action -

Has Grant Hill really been missed? Yes!  Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Highlighted in the Suns two most recent losses has been the starters' inability to close out the game. They did not score in the final 3 minutes against Denver, and hardly scored in the final 6 minutes against Memphis. Overall the Suns were outscored 29-12 in Nash's last 12 minutes in those two losses. Ouch.

At the same time, Sebastian Telfair's second unit has been a revelation in the 2nd and 4th quarters, to the point that I find myself hoping Gentry leaves them in longer and longer. Often, the benchies turn a lead over to the starters in the 4th, who seem to flub that lead more often than not.


So what's going on? Has the loss of Steve Nash's right-hand man, Grant Hill, for the last 9 games made Nash's task much more difficult in the 4th quarter?

Let's take a look at the Suns last 21 games, in which they went 14-7.

Since March 1, the Suns played 12 games WITH Grant Hill, going 9-3. They since played 9 games without Grant Hill, going 5-4. But the competition and situations were much tougher in the last 9 games, so there's no guarantee the Suns would have had better than a 5-4 record in their last 9.

However, the losses since Hill has been out (Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets and Grizzlies) have featured wing scorers that Hill would have primarily defended better than Dudley, Childress, Redd and Brown could do. Yet the offense provided by the latter 2 has been welcome.

Let's break down the Suns last 21 games in further detail, by Telfair's 4th quarter minutes vs. Nash's 4th quarter minutes. Is it really true that Telfair's unit has been killing it, while Nash's unit has been getting killed?

(all data provided by

MIN: 4th with Telfair +5; Nash +3 WIN by 9

LAC: 4th with Telfair -2; Nash -6; WIN by 3

SAC: 4th with Telfair +10; Nash -1 WIN by 8

OKC: 4ith with Telfair -11; Nash -4 LOSS by 11

DAL: 4th with Telfair +7; Nash -7 WIN by 2

MEM: 4th with Telfair 0; Nash +1 WIN by 7

MIN: 4th with Telfair +2; Nash -3 LOSS by 3

UTA: 4th with Telfair -4; Nash +6 WIN by 8

DET: 4th with Telfair +3; Nash +4 WIN by 8

HOU: 4th with Telfair -3; Nash 0 WIN by 13

MIA: 4th with Telfair +1; Nash -8 LOSS by 6

IND: 4th with Telfair -5; Nash +3 WIN by 2

Grant Hill goes down to knee injury...

SA: 4th with Telfair -8; Nash +2 LOSS by 7

Clips: 4th with Telfair -3; Nash -2 LOSS by 17

NO: 4th with Telfair -4; Nash +4. WIN by 17

Sac: 4th with Telfair +4; Nash +4. WIN by 9

Utah: 4th with Telfair +6; Nash -7. WIN by 2

Denver: 4th with Telfair +7; Nash -9. LOSS by 6

Suns/Lakers: 4th with Telfair 0; 4th with Nash +6 WIN by 20

Suns/Minny: Telfair +12; Nash -3 WIN by by 24

Suns/Grizzlies 4/11: 4th with Telfair +6; 4th with Nash -9 LOSS by 11

Suns record since March 1: 14-7

Telfair's won-loss record in 4th Quarters: 11-9-2

Nash's won-loss record in 4th Quarters: 9-12-1

Yet you'd expect Nash to have a tougher time in the 4th quarter than Telfair, since Nash is playing the other team's starters while Telfair is playing their backups.

What does this mean? Nothing. I did all this research for nothing. But since I did the work, I'm going to post the results anyway.

Regardless of the data, I can't help but think that Grant Hill would have made a difference in the Suns' recent losses.

Before Grant Hill’s injury, the Phoenix Suns’ usual starting lineup of Nash-Dudley-Hill-Frye-Gortat spent 745 minutes together on the floor (second in the NBA to Indiana’s starting...

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