With his former team off to a hot start, Hill makes his first trip to Orlando on Saturday, trying to help cool off the Magic.
Hill spent seven seasons in Orlando, but was slowed by injuries throughout most of them after signing a $93 million deal upon his arrival in 2000-01. In his first three seasons, he played a total of only 47 games before having season-ending ankle surgery and sitting out the 2003-04 season.
Hill bounced back the following year and played 67 games, but a sports hernia and lower abdominal injuries caused him to miss 61 games in 2005-06. He played 65 games last year and started 64 of them, averaging 14.4 points in one of his better seasons in Orlando.
The seven-time All-Star, however, has never won a title, which was one reason he left the Magic. He signed a two-year, $1.83 million contract with the Suns as a free agent, knowing that there will be plenty of questions this year about his health.
“There’s nothing I can say to make anyone believe, or to make fans not skeptical,” he said. “All I can do is just go out there and try to be consistent, be reliable to my teammates day in and day out, week to week, month to month, and hopefully get through the season healthy.”
Hill was part of a Magic team which made the playoffs last season for the first time in four years. Even without the veteran, Orlando (5-1) has gotten off to a quick start.
“It’ll be interesting going in there and playing,” Hill said. “They’re a good team and we’ve got to come prepared. It’ll be our fourth game in five nights, seventh game in 10 days. We’ve got to be mentally ready to go in there and fight and play the way we’re capable of.”
Orlando returns home after a 4-0 road trip, including a 112-102 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday. The Magic scored 28 points off 20 Knicks’ turnovers, went 23-of-28 from the free throw line and scored 64 points in the second half.
Four players scored at least 20 points, led by Jameer Nelson, who had 24 points and 10 assists. Dwight Howard added 22 points and 20 rebounds for his first 20-20 game of the season and seventh of his career to help Orlando finish with another win on the trip.
The Magic also beat Washington, Minnesota and Toronto over the seven-day stretch.
“To go on a four-game trip, win them all, it’s difficult to do,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s a good accomplishment. It’s hard to relax and enjoy it because you have a fairly decent team staring in your face tomorrow night at home that can make you look bad.”
Orlando has lost eight of its last 10 against the Suns (4-2), who are coming off a 106-101 win over the Miami Heat on Friday. Steve Nash had a game-high 30 points, and did all the scoring in Phoenix’s critical 11-0 run in the fourth quarter. Nash hit three of his six 3-pointers during that stretch to help rally the Suns.
“Steve Nash was unbelievable,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Shawn Marion had 17 points and 24 rebounds while Hill reached double figures for the fourth time in five games with 11 points.
Amare Stoudemire, who missed the previous three games because of pain in his knee, had nine points before he was ejected in the third quarter. He picked up a second technical for arguing a foul call.
The Suns were coming off a 105-96 loss to Atlanta two days earlier after beginning their four-game road trip with a 115-83 win over Charlotte on Tuesday.
“We want to end this trip on a good note and we have to go get one tomorrow,” Marion said.