Reigning MVP Steve Nash looks to bounce back from his first scoreless effort in more than three years and the Phoenix Suns try to regroup after their worst loss of the season when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks.
Phoenix was routed 110-72 at New Jersey on Monday, shooting a franchise-record low 26.8 percent. The Suns, who recorded their lowest point total since a 92-72 loss at Miami on Dec. 9, 2003, fell for only the second time in 16 games in the first half of back-to-back games this season.
Nash, who is averaging a career-high 19.5 points this season, missed all five shots and did not score for the first time since Feb. 1, 2003 with Dallas against Denver. He also handed out only five assists in 26 minutes as the Suns suffered their third straight road loss in the opener of a trip in which they play five games in seven days.
“I’ve always been a reluctant scorer,” Nash said. “It’s not the strangest thing in the world for me, but obviously, when you’re getting 20 a game, it hurts your team. I take full responsibility for hurting us tonight. I give a lot of credit to Jason (Kidd) for his defense.
“I don’t think you can blame this on one thing. We are a perimeter shooting team and you are going to have some cold nights. Give them credit. They were pretty stingy and outstanding defensively.”
Suns forward Amare Stoudemire struggled in his third game back since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee. He missed all six shots in the second scoreless effort of his four-year career.
Phoenix, which has already clinched a playoff berth, has a magic number of eight to clinch the Pacific Division crown.
The Suns are hoping to recover against the Bucks, who they have beaten 26 of the last 29 meetings. Phoenix also has won 11 of its last 14 visits to the Bradley Center.
Milwaukee, which is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, is looking to improve its playoff positioning. The Bucks are beginning a difficult four-game stretch in which they will also meet Detroit, Indiana and Miami.
Bell had 18 points and 11 assists to help Milwaukee improve to 5-1 in overtime games.
“I am starting to play a little better. My confidence is coming,” said Bell, who made his NBA debut with Phoenix in 2001-02. “I just try to make the best of it because you never know what is going to happen in the future.
“I am getting a chance to go out there and show other teams and this team what I can do.”
Ford missed his second straight game with a left quadriceps strain and fellow guard Mo Williams has missed the last five games with a left ankle sprain. Both players are day-to-day.