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Originally published Monday, December 29, 2008 at 9:05 PM

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Suns guard Steve Nash leaves with back spasms

Two-time MVP Steve Nash doesn't expect the back spasms that forced him out of Phoenix's game Monday night at Oklahoma City to be a long-term problem.

AP Sports Writer


Two-time MVP Steve Nash doesn't expect the back spasms that forced him out of Phoenix's game Monday night at Oklahoma City to be a long-term problem.

Nash played nine minutes before his bad back flared up and he had to leave the Suns' 110-102 win against the Thunder.

"The negative is that I didn't get to contribute, but the positive is I didn't have one incident that jarred it and it was a huge reaction that could keep me out for an extended period of time," Nash said.

"We'll see how I feel (Tuesday). I'm very questionable for (Tuesday) but I think it's something that definitely won't keep me out after the new year."

The Suns play at Memphis on Tuesday, but then are off two days before hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

It's the second game this season Nash has left because of back spasms. He also exited in the final 5 minutes of a 105-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 20.

The 34-year-old Nash said that two of the vertebrae in his back are a few millimeters out of line, which occasionally causes the spasms.

"I have a bad back and luckily with education and training and our staff, it's under control. But once in a blue moon, once a year maybe, once every two years, I get back spasms. Tonight it kind of crept up on me," Nash said.

"We kind of caught it early enough that I might not have done damage where I have to sit out for an extended period. I could be possible for (Tuesday)."

Nash said the pain was right in the middle of his back and occasionally shot down into his legs. He said he didn't slip or notice himself doing anything to aggravate the injury.

"It wasn't that typical in that usually something happens," Nash said. "It was between plays, I noticed it started to lock up. I went up and down three or four or five times to try to watch it, and it got tighter and tighter."

Nash had been on a hot stretch that started in Oklahoma City five days after his last bout of spasms. He scored 20 points and had season-highs with 15 assists and eight rebounds in leading Phoenix back from a 16-point deficit for a 99-98 win against the Thunder on Nov. 25.


Since then, Nash was averaging 17.5 points and 9.5 assists over his past 12 games. He averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 assists in his first 13 games of the season.

Leandro Barbosa replaced Nash and finished with 10 points and a career-high six steals. Third-stringer Dee Brown, who signed with the Suns as a free agent on Wednesday, got his first playing time and hit a 3-pointer, made an assist and committed three fouls in 13 minutes.

"Whenever you take a two-time MVP out of the equation, it kind of changes things," Phoenix coach Terry Porter said. "We're going to have to see how (Tuesday) plays out, but if he can't go, we're going to go with (Barbosa) and Dee Brown. He stepped in and did a good job tonight."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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