PHOENIX -- Steve Nash performed like a Ferrari against the Toronto Raptors last night and his counterpart T.J. Ford like, well, a Ford. But a really high-end model.
In a personal matchup that turned into one of those "anything you can do, I can do better" deals, the two point guards went head-to-head in a battle royale -- for three quarters anyway -- with Nash and the Phoenix Suns (18-6) emerging victorious, 115-98, for a franchise-record 15th consecutive win.
The last team in the NBA to win that many consecutive games was the 1999-2000 L.A. Lakers, who won 19.
"What does it really mean? Not much," Nash said of his team's record. "I think it's fun and I think it's a good accomplishment and we should probably be proud of ourselves. But at the same time we should realize that it probably doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot either."
WIN STREAK OVER
The loss at the packed US Airways Center ended a three-game win streak for the 10-15 Raptors.
Nash, the proud native of Victoria, B.C., finished the game with a double-double, 15 assists and 10 points, as well as two steals and five rebounds, in only 29 minutes of play, while Ford had 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds in 34 minutes -- before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a bruised lower back. That was the official word, though Ford called it a "sore butt" and vowed to be uniform for tonight's game in Los Angeles against the Clippers at the Staples Center.
"Of course it's sore, but you know you're never going to play this game healthy once the season starts," Ford said.
The injuries are starting to pile on the Raptors. On top of the Ford injury, the Toronto team was without the services of all-star forward Chris Bosh (bruised left knee) and point guard Jose Calderon, who injured his back against Golden State on Sunday in Toronto.
The Raptors lost starting power forward Jorge Garbajosa with a right calf strain late in the second quarter when he went crashing into the stands. Anthony Parker missed the morning shootaround with flu-like symptoms, started last night, but obviously didn't have much in the tank. Mitchell was also without the services of forward Kris Humphries who spent most of the game in the locker room dealing with an upset stomach.
"Sometimes when it rains it pours, but we have to find as many healthy bodies as we can and try to regroup," Mitchell said.
Nash, who left the game with three minutes left in the third and did not return, picked up nine assists in the first quarter and 13 in the half, both Toronto opponent records, as the Suns took a 53-44 lead. Ford did his best to keep up with Nash, picking up four rebounds, 11 points and six assists in the half, one on a marvelous back-door pass to Parker resulting in highlight reel reverse layup. But the run-and-gun Suns found their high gear in the third quarter, pulling away to a 90-70 lead with 12 minutes remaining.
B Offence: The Raptors did get off 95 shots, but went 2-for-12 from three-point range and were out-scored on fast-break points, 28-12.
C- Defence: All four Suns starters recorded double-figures in points. The Suns shot 51% from the field and distributed the ball very well, picking up 26 assists to Toronto's 15.