Steve does his thing

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash steals the ball from Toronto Raptors' Jose Calderon during second quarter...

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash steals the ball from Toronto Raptors' Jose Calderon during second quarter NBA action in Toronto on Wednesday. (Toronto Sun/Alex Urosevic)

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

Steve Nash wasn't quite himself last night.

All he was able to do was win, not with his best stuff, just the right stuff.

Scoreless at the half, the two-time MVP, and looking for a third, delivered 13 points in the fourth quarter, the last two sticking a dagger in the hearts of the determined Raptors in the final seconds.

"That's my job," said Nash. "As one of the captains and veterans of this team, no matter how I feel, I have to do what I can."

When Nash comes to Toronto with his Phoenix Suns, it is always a night of anguish for the Raptor fans. It's impossible not to be proud of the man who has become known as Captain Canada, but now that he has beaten the Raps 10 consecutive times, it's getting a little old.

Nash, averaging more than 20 points a game, didn't nail his first of the night until he finally sank a jump shot halfway through the third quarter. Up until that point, he was 0-for-6 from the field and still hadn't been to the foul line.

But at crunch time, the adrenalin started to flow, the old bones and muscles began to respond and Nash's indomitable will took over.

"Steve didn't have any pop until he decided not to let us lose," said Mike D'Antoni, the Phoenix head coach. "He's the MVP. He does it all the time."

Twice in the final minutes, the Raptors took the lead and Nash took the ball straight down court on the next possession and dropped in three-pointers both times.

"It was a struggle for me tonight," he said. "Physically, I didn't feel great and I didn't play great, but my teammates did a great job of sticking with it and I just tried to be there for them in the fourth quarter.

"I finally got a little bit loose," said Nash. "I was really stiff and I felt slow and old for three quarters. Then, all of a sudden, I had a rebirth. You just try to mentally stay with it and give yourself and your team a chance."

For most of the first half, with Nash on idle, Toronto stayed close. But in the last few moments of the first half, Phoenix ripped off a 19-2 run that broke the game open. In the second half, the Raps kept eating into that lead until, with 83 seconds left, Chris Bosh gave Toronto its first lead of the game. That's when Nash stepped up, scoring eight points in the last 79 seconds.

"They take the lead and you don't want to sit back and watch as they run you out of the gym," he said.

Nobody is ever going to run Nash out of any gym, any where. He'd been a big part of Tuesday's last-second win in Chicago and the team didn't arrive at the hotel in Toronto until after 3 a.m. He was stiff and sore but that has seldom stopped him on the second half of back-to-backs before.

"Even going back to the Dallas days we were able to win a lot of back-to-backs," he said. "I don't know if it just means that good teams are going to win games, no matter when they play them, or what the rhyme or reason is."

Before the game, Nash was asked if the huge response he gets in Toronto ever gets old.

"No, it's not heavy," he said. "It's a great source of pride for me to have so much support at home. For me, I just try to be myself, enjoy what I'm doing.

"Beyond that it all comes with the territory. I don't spend all my time thinking about being Captain Canada."

As proud as Canada is of him, Nash is seriously impressed with the ball team that is being put together here in Toronto under his old boss, Bryan Colangelo.

"I like the team. I think Bryan did a good job of bringing in a complementary group. They've got a lot of great young pieces and I think the city should be really excited.

"It's probably going to take them a while. It's not an easy business to jump to the top right away. But you've got a bunch of young players who are talented, who like to play the right way, like to play together. That's a beautiful thing for any city when a young team respects the game and plays the way the Raptors do."

This from a guy who wrote the book about doing things the right way.


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