Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Updated: April 5, 8:41 PM ET
Suns' Steve Nash: Back feels great
By Marc Stein
With the Phoenix Suns clinging to their playoff lives in the Western Conference, star point guard Steve Nash insists his back feels "the best it's felt in a decade."
Nash, who turned 38 in February, also told ESPN.com in a phone interview before Tuesday night's game in Sacramento he intends to "sign for three more years this summer" and play beyond his 40th birthday when he either inks a new deal to stay with the Suns or finds a new team via free agency.
Responding to a New York Post report in Tuesday's editions which described the condition of Nash's back as "bad as it has ever been," Nash strongly disputed such suggestions. He expressed great satisfaction with the way his health has held up through the rigors of a lockout-compacted schedule that called for 66 regular-season games in a span of about 120 days.
"It's been my best year physically from start to finish in a long time," Nash said. "Other than a little tweak (last week) against San Antonio, my back's been pretty close to 100 percent."
The Post report noted that Nash has taken more than eight shots only once in his past 10 games and pinpointed back issues as the reason why Nash's field-goal attempts are down.
Nash, though, says the overwhelming attention he gets from opposing defenses -- on a team with no scorer adept at creating his own shot and no one averaging more than center Marcin Gortat's 16.1 points per game -- is the only factor keeping his shot totals in single digits.
"Maybe I could be more aggressive looking for my shot, but every team we play traps me (frequently) or (jumps) out hard at me on the pick-and-roll," Nash said. "So my thinking is, 'Get it out of my hands as fast as possible and it's four on three or three on two for my teammates.' It seems to be working. We've been playing a lot better (since the All-Star break). I'm not just going to be forcing up shots to improve my numbers."
Despite the recent back "tweak" he mentioned, Nash logged 35 minutes on Sunday in a home win over New Orleans. Nash tallied 14 assists to go with four points to maintain his edge on Boston's Rajon Rondo for the NBA assist lead. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third time in a span of 10 days that both Nash and Rondo notched at least 14 assists on the same day.
Nash has missed only four games this season for the Suns (26-26) and is averaging 12.7 points and 11.3 assists. The two-time former MVP was named an All-Star in February for the eighth time in his 16-year career.