December 9, 2009 | 7:35am
It seems as if the Phoenix Suns are playing only road games this year. Of course, they've suited up at US Airways Center a few times, but, indeed, they've been away from home a lot thus far: a league-high 15 games out of the first 22 they've played, to be exact. And it's starting to show. The Suns lost their fourth game out of the their past five Tuesday night in Dallas, 102-101.
Here's what Steve Nash told reporters after the game: "We've had 15 road games, so we're a little bit tired. We've got to fight through that. The legs are a little tired, but nobody cares; nobody's going to feel sorry for us."
Of course, the upside to so many road games early is all the home games the Suns will play in the second half of the season, when they will be jostling with other teams for playoff position. And if the past week has taught us anything, the Suns (now with a 15-7 record, suddenly 2.5 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Lakers) look like a team headed for the number-four seed in the NBA's Western Conference.
The Mavericks, probably the closest rivals (in terms of talent) to the Suns in the West, looked every bit the guttier team on Tuesday night. Especially Josh Howard, who hadn't played in nearly a month because of an ankle injury that hobbled him all last season. Howard went off in the second half, scoring 18 points and turning the tables on the Suns, who led 50-49 at halftime.
In the end, the final score had no business being as close as it was. The Mavs appeared in charge as the game headed into the final minute of play. But the Suns nailed three quick 3-pointers, including two from Nash, who led the Suns with 27 points and eight assists. Jason Richardson, who also hit a big three-pointer in the final minute, scored 25 points and brought down eight rebounds for the Suns.
The difference in the game might've been Channing Frye, who while grabbing a team-high nine rebounds, went just 1-for-7 in shooting and finished the night with a sad two points.
The Suns will have a few days to rest those weary legs before returning Friday night to US Airways Center to face the Orlando Magic, one of the NBA's best teams, in a nationally televised game. The Magic are tied with the Boston Celtics for the league's best record, 17-4, and have a six-game winning streak. On November 4 in Orlando, the Magic handed the Suns their first loss of the season, pummeling them 122-100.
Time: 8:30 p.m. TV: ESPN. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. Info: www.suns.com