At least until the playoffs roll around, it is: Phoenix 161, New Jersey 157 in double OT. Nets set scoring mark and lose. Lawrence Frank suffers brainlock. Nash gone wild. As much funhouse as game, stumbling across this one hiding in one of Ted Rogers' area-code channel regions last night was like discovering plutonium by accident, to cop a Costanzaism.
|AP PHOTO/BILL KOSTROUN|
|Nash on Kidd: Classic duel.|
Lou Marsh pick Steve Nash, already with a 20-assist night earlier this week, went off for a career-hi 42. His opposite Jason Kidd answered with 38/14/14 - I think the whole "triple double" thing is kind of overdone (don't get me started on "double doubles"), but this was more legit than one of those cheesy 11-10-10's - even if it all came a-cropper when Kidd dribbled the ball off his foot on New Jersey's last possession that mattered.
Back to Nash, though. A quick recap of highlights:
- Final possession of regulation, curls off a (moving, not called) Kurt Thomas screen and hits a 3-pointer to force OT (see above L-Frank ref.).
- in OT, splits defence and finishes lefthanded, picks up the foul, makes the and-one. Amare Stoudemire and Raja Bell had already fouled out, but it didn't matter, no one - not even the sainted StocktontoMalone - runs the pick and roll as well as NashtoSuns.
- in double OT: Hits an open jumper that's within a couple of toes of another 3. Goes to Boris Diaw (pick-and-roll again) for the layup and one. Yup, goes p-'n-r with Diaw again, takes it himself, finish righthanded. Assists on Shawn Marian's fast-break layup with a looping 45-foot pass. Ices it with a pair of free throws.
Nash and Kidd each came back into the fourth quarter at the same time, playing the final 10:34 of regulation, plus the two OTs, head to head. Courtesy of Popcorn Machine's numbers for that stretch, here's the mano-a-mano:
Nash 10/12 FG (including 4/5 on 3-pters), 4 assists, 27 points
Kidd 6/13 FG, 5 assists, 20 points.
Whenever Nash has one of these nights, I flash back to the summer of 1994, and the world championships in Toronto, and the subject comes around to future pros amid the JJ Jacksons. More than one NBA scout mentioned Nash, then a pretty anonymous backup/sometime starter with Canada. "Keep your eye on him," I recall Stu Jackson saying (if only Stu had been so prescient in Vancouver, history might have worked out a little different).
Back to the present, it's Nash the back-to-back MVP and working on another. The Suns have won eight in a row, Stoudemire looks healthy, and if there's one beacon to watch through the rest of the season, they are it. Meantime, big thanks to L-Frank. This one couldn't have happened without you, coach.