x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Nash feels 'a little dizzy' but he gets the job done

Phoenix clinch their place in play-offs while 'tough loss' leaves Bulls a game and a half behind Raptors in race to reach post-season.

The Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash drives past Chicago's Taj Gibson.
The Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash drives past Chicago's Taj Gibson.

Despite suffering from back spasms, Steve Nash outplayed Derrick Rose to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 111-105 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night - their eighth successive victory and the one that clinched their spot in the NBA play-offs. Nash scored 22 points and had 10 assists, including the pass to Channing Frye for the three-pointer with 41 seconds left to give the Suns a 106-103 lead.

The Suns' point guard, a two-time MVP, then found Grant Hill for a dunk and added two free throws to clinch the win. "If I'm honest, I was taking so many meds for my back and cold that I actually felt a little loopy for most of the game," Nash said. "It helped my back but I was a little dizzy out there. At the end of the game I just tried to hang in there. "We had a chance to win and I was fortunate to make some plays when it counted."

"We've had a great run and we're just holding our own," said Alvin Gentry, the Phoenix coach. "We are playing really good basketball as a team. We have been closing out games lately." Rose, last season's Rookie of the Year, scored Chicago's final eight points and finished with 23 and 10 assists. He twice seized the lead for his team in the final three minutes and tied the game 103-103 on two free throws with 59 seconds remaining.

"They hit big shots and made big plays and there was nothing we could do about it," Rose said. The Bulls (35-39) fell a game and a half behind the Toronto Raptors for the eighth and last play-off spot in the Eastern Conference. "It was a tough loss," Chicago's Joakim Noah said. "I thought we played with good energy. It's just tough when late in the game you have chances to win." Elsewhere, the rookie Chase Budinger hit the go-ahead jump shot with 28 seconds remaining to help the Houston Rockets escape with a 98-94 win over the struggling Washington Wizards.

The loss extended Washington's team-record losing streak to 16 games. Andray Blatche scored 31 points for the Wizards, but still blamed himself for the defeat after missing 10 shots from the field. "I'm going to take full responsibility for the loss," Blatche said. "I made tough decisions down the stretch and I didn't rely on my teammates." * With agencies