During the course of this year's NBA playoffs, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash has come away from several games looking more like a hockey player than a Canadian-born hoopster.
Last night's 118-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers was no exception.
Nash banged his face -- again -- in a fourth-quarter collision with Lakers guard Derek Fisher, which left his schnoz more crooked than Joe Arpaio.
We watched as Nash, resorting to his hockey roots, seemed to just crack that sucker back into place after scoring 17 points and getting 15 assists before the collision.
awesome gross as the gutsy move may have been, Nash's nostrils aren't the big story coming out of last night's win -- that honor goes to Suns big man Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire has been getting shit on by the media all week about his lack of defense, lack of rebounds, and lack of just about anything positive in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
After scoring 42 points and pulling in 11 rebounds in the Suns' win over the Lakers in game three last night, Stoudemire has put an end to that criticism -- for the moment -- and put the Suns in a position to regain the ground lost in the first two games and possibly win the series.
"You can never question my determination," Stoudemire said after the game, "my focus, my dedication. That's one of the reasons I've persevered through injuries and continue to try to improve every summer. My dedication to the game is at an all-time high."
The Suns were dominated by size in the first two games, but with Stoudemire's huge game, and getting 31 solid minutes out of 7-footer Robin Lopez, the Suns' big men slayed the Lakers' giants down low, controlling the game.
Lopez scored 20 points in his 31 minutes, which is the most he's played in a single game since returning from a back injury he suffered in March.
Even Suns coach Alvin Gentry called Lopez's performance "a big surprise."
As for Lakers coach Phil Jackson, he wasn't as impressed with his squad.
"We certainly didn't come out to play the way I wanted," Jackson said after the game, "and we certainly didn't play the way I wanted at the end."
Kobe Bryant scored 36 points with 9 rebounds, 11 assists, and one steal. He led the Lakers in each of those categories.
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Lakers big man Lamar Odom made 4-of-14 shots and had 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out, saying afterward, "It was one of those games, it happens."
For the Suns' sake, let's hope "it happens" again in game four.
Which is here tomorrow night. The game will be televised on TNT, and KTAR 620 Sports has the radio broadcast. For more information on the Suns, click here.