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Friday, April 27, 2012
Sun likely sets on Nash's career in Phoenix; Bobcats lose again
PHOENIX — No one could say for certain that this was Steve Nash's final game in a Phoenix uniform, but the Suns' fans certainly sensed it was.
As a meaningless 110-106 loss to the depleted San Antonio Spurs wound down on Wednesday night, the crowd stood and chanted "We want Nash" over and over.
First it was just a few fans. Then it spread through the whole building.
Finally, coach Alvin Gentry sent the 38-year-old point guard back onto the court for a few plays before Nash left to rousing cheers.
"It was obviously amazing to get that type of reception and support," Nash said. "It's very special because it's not something I asked for or imagined to get that type of spontaneous reaction. It means it's authentic, the relationship that I thought we had."
Nash, a free agent at the end of the season after eight years with the Suns, said he will take time to explore his options.
"I'm in no rush," he said. "I think it's important to take my time and just gain some perspective on what's happened in my career and what the future may hold. It's just a lot of speculation at this point."
Gentry said he put Nash back in the game to get the ovation he deserved.
"He was a guy that made guys better," said Gentry, who was with the Suns for all eight of Nash's seasons, either as an assistant or head coach. "It was fun to watch him play and to be with him for eight years, and what he has accomplished here, and what he has done for this franchise and for my coaching career, is priceless."
Patty Mills scored 27 points in San Antonio's ninth win in a row.
The Spurs sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — as well as coach Gregg Popovich — home earlier in the day. The four will also miss San Antonio's regular-season finale at Golden State on Thursday night.
Phoenix was eliminated from playoff contention with a loss at Utah on Tuesday night.
Nash had eight points and seven assists in just 18 minutes, all of his points coming in the third quarter. The two-time league MVP left the game with 3:08 to go in the third quarter and probably would have stayed on the sideline had the crowd not demanded his return.
As he left the court the final time to cheers, Nash looked down but waved his right index finger briefly to the crowd.
Bulls 92, Pacers 87
In Indianapolis, Kyle Korver scored 20 points to help Chicago beat Indiana and remain tied for the best record in the league with one game to play.
Nuggets 106, Thunder 101
In Oklahoma City, Ty Lawson scored 25 points, Kenneth Faried added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Denver beat the Thunder to avoid the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points to extend his lead in the NBA scoring race, leaving Kobe Bryant in need of 38 points in his season finale Thursday night against Sacramento to claim his third scoring title and prevent Durant from becoming the seventh player to win three in a row.
Knicks 99, Clippers 93
In New York, J.R. Smith scored 21 points to help the Knicks hold off Los Angeles and close in on the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Magic 102, Bobcats 95
In Orlando, J.J. Redick had six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points as Orlando sent Charlotte to its 22nd consecutive loss.
76ers 90, Bucks 85
In Milwaukee, Evan Turner scored a career-high 29 points and Philadelphia beat the Bucks.
Wizards 96, Cavaliers 85
In Cleveland, John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists to help Washington extend its longest winning streak since 2007 to five.