Suns' Nash not slowed by injuries
Facial injuries nothing new to two-time NBA MVP from Victoria, B.C.,
The final minute of a 118-109 Game 3 victory for Steve Nash's Phoenix Suns also etched his latest playoff memento into — where else — his face.
While taking an inbound pass, the bridge of Nash's nose was tattooed by the head of Lakers' Derek Fisher — instantly rearranging the placement of Nash's sniffer.
Grabbing his face in pain, Nash quickly attempted to reset the nose as many, including teammate Grant Hill, watched in a mix of horror and amazement.
The team described the resulting injury as a "minimally displaced nasal fracture with displaced cartilage," but for Nash, it was just another day at the office.
"I was trying to move it while it was still fresh," Nash said. "I know that once it sets, it's harder."
Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson described Nash's "Canadian" look to the Arizona Republic after the game:
"[Nash] really looks like a hockey player," Nelson said. "His eye is still kind of black and his nose is crooked. He looks like he got in a brawl. He's living up to his true Canadian expectations."
Suns forward Jason Richardson says he also sees some "hockey player" in his point guard.
"That's what the hockey guys do, man," Richardson said. "Get your teeth knocked out, get your nose broke, get five or six stitches on your eyeball and you still play. He's a tough guy and he's going to play through stuff like that."
Those expectations aren't totally to do with the 36-year-old former Victoria, B.C., resident's nationality.
"It seems to happen to him," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "He just shrugs his shoulders and moves on."
No eye, no problem
The seven-time all-star and two-time MVP has wracked up facial injuries at an unheard of rate — the Fisher head butt wasn't even the first time Nash has gotten cracked in the face this month.
Tim Duncan's elbow supplied the preceding injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal, which caused Nash's right eye to balloon shut.
"I'm lucky. I've had a couple bumps or bruises that haven't affected my play," Nash said. "Those don't bother you. It's the ones that limit you that you hope you don't have to face."
The question is: what type of injury actually limits a player like Nash? He returned from the locker-room after that elbow with six stitches in his eyebrow and an icepack but was quickly back on the hardwood, tallying 10 of his 20 points as the eye gradually closed.
Nash added an exclamation mark to his toughness by hitting a 3-pointer with, literally, one eye open.
"He looked like Ray [Boom Boom] Mancini,'" Hill said about the former boxer. "It forced him to focus 'cause he was shooting out of one eye."
The one-eyed win sealed a sweep of the Spurs and may have been provided a measure of redemption for Nash, who had been forced to watch his team's elimination at the hands of the Spurs in 2007 from the bench after a head-to-head collision with Tony Parker left Nash's nose in a constant bloody state.
For Tuesday night's Game 4, Nash is expected in the Suns' lineup without any type of mask or tape on the injured nose, although Richardson told reporters after practice on Monday that he recommends his scrappy point guard don a full helmet instead.
with files from the Associated Press