It’s probably nothing that will hinder Steve Nash for very long, if at all. But on the last play of the Suns’ 86-84 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday, Nash collided with Marc Gasol, causing him to limp off the floor after Mike Conley’s three-point attempt at the buzzer to win it fell short.
“It was just frustrating,” Nash said afterward. “Another thigh bruise. Hopefully it’ll settle down for Monday. I’ll just try to ice it and keep it moving a little bit.”
Monday is when the Suns play next, at home against the Dallas Mavericks.
Nash missed a game earlier this season with an injury to his right thigh. When asked if Gasol’s knee caught him in the same one that was injured previously, Nash feigned enthusiasm while responding, “No, it’s a new one.”
It’s easy to keep your sense of humor when you’re winning, especially when doing so after such a dreadful performance in Portland the night before. The Suns’ 38-point defeat led to the coaching staff switching up the starting lineup, as well as changing up the team’s rotations.
Phoenix went back to the starting five it used to begin the season: Nash, Grant Hill, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, and Jared Dudley. Nash subbed out earlier than usual in the first quarter (easier to do when you have a seven-point lead), and came back with eight minutes to play in the second with the advantage still intact. Nash also came back earlier than normal in the fourth, playing the game’s final 10 minutes.
Shannon Brown and Robin Lopez were the odd men out in the team’s latest lineup experiment, while Michael Redd, Ronnie Price, and Josh Childress all played less than eight minutes.
Jared Dudley seemed to benefit the most, playing almost 42 minutes and scoring a season-high 20 points. He was also key down the stretch, drawing fouls on Gasol and Conley to earn four free throws, which he had no problem knocking down to score the Suns’ final four points of the game.
“I haven’t shot free throws like that since the BC days, playing Syracuse beating Hak,” Dudley said, referring to his time at Boston College and teammate Hakim Warrick. “It was big. It feels good to help your team win the game. Hopefully we can start building some confidence, we have Dallas coming up who’s had our number for the last couple of years. We owe ’em one.”
The Suns’ chances against Dallas will obviously improve dramatically with a healthy Steve Nash in the lineup. It’s anyone’s guess how much the bruise will limit him over the next couple of days, but as usual, Nash is choosing to keep things positive.
“I’m optimistic that I can play Monday,” he said. “You never know, but hopefully it’ll be fine — good enough to play.”