Bulls hope to continue success in Valley of the Sun

Bulls hope to continue success in Valley of the Sun
November 24, 2010, 5:00 pm
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Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
10:57 a.m.

Associated Press

Steve Nash believes he is showing no lingering effects from a groin injury that caused him to miss two games for the Phoenix Suns. He will likely need to be at full strength if he wants to try to slow down Derrick Rose.

Rose has guided the Chicago Bulls to consecutive wins in Phoenix for the first time in 21 years, and they'll try to make it three in a row at the US Airways Center on Wednesday night.

Nash returned Monday, and helped Phoenix (7-7) end a season-high three-game skid with a 123-116 victory at Houston. He had 24 points and nine assists, and said he felt fine physically.

"I had it in my mind that I wanted to play, so I was working every day to try to get ready," Nash said. "I felt like I made strides. I went through the day, trying to play, I got here, went through my routine and I was ready."

The two-time league MVP will have to be ready Wednesday since Rose has been the catalyst in Chicago's two straight wins at Phoenix. The Suns had won nine of their previous 10 home games against the Bulls (7-5) before Rose averaged 29.0 points on 67.5 percent shooting in the last two visits.

Nash averaged 11.5 points on 42.3 percent shooting and 8.5 assists in the losses for Phoenix, marking the first time the Suns had lost two in a row at home to the Bulls since dropping three straight from Feb. 4, 1988-Nov. 22, 1989.

The Suns have won three straight at home this season, with Nash averaging 22.7 points and 10.0 assists in that run. Phoenix is glad to have him back.

"He is the engine that drives the car," coach Alvin Gentry said. "He comes out and makes the plays and knocks down the big shots."

In Nash's absence, Grant Hill led Phoenix in scoring in both games with 21 and a season-high 23 points. Hill had 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds Monday, and is shooting 60.5 percent over his last three games.

"I'm feeling really good and we are finding ourselves as a team in trying to establish our identity," Hill said. "I'm scoring and defending and being productive when I am on the court."

Phoenix ranks last in the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage at 48.9, and is allowing 109.5 points per game for the second-worst mark in the league.

The Suns will be up against a Chicago team that has been a one-man show on this road trip with Rose scoring at least 30 points in three of the first four games. He had 30 and eight assists in Tuesday's 98-91 loss to the Lakers, although the All-Star guard missed all four shots in the fourth quarter when Chicago was outscored 24-18.

"They put a lot of pressure on us," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The Lakers are a heck of a defensive team. You've got to make quick decisions against them, (and) I thought we settled too much for jumpers."

The Bulls fell to 2-2 with three games left on their annual circus road trip.

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