Trying to find a way to end an eight-game losing streak versus the Phoenix Suns will be tough for the Toronto Raptors and interim coach Jay Triano, who is in desperate need of an orchestrator on offense.
With Canada at the 2000 Olympics, he had one of the NBA’s best leaders in Steve Nash.
The Suns, kicking off a season-high six-game road trip, hope Nash can pick up his ninth straight win against the team from his home country as they face Triano and the Raptors on Sunday.
Triano, who was named interim coach for Toronto (16-25) after Sam Mitchell was fired on Dec. 3, has been without starting point guard Jose Calderon (hamstring) for seven of the last eight games and the Raptors have only three wins during that span.
Toronto, which has lost four straight, may be without Calderon again as it tries to end an eight-game losing streak to Phoenix (22-15). The Raptors haven’t beaten the Suns since a 101-94 road victory on Feb. 10, 2004, the last meeting between the teams before Nash re-signed with Phoenix.
Nash, who played his first two seasons with the Suns before being traded to Dallas in 1998, has won nine straight overall against the Raptors and is 17-2 against them all-time. He’ll now try to continue that run in a reunion with Triano, whom he played under with Canada’s national team in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Triano was the head coach as Canada was eliminated by France in the quarterfinals. Two years later, he went on to become the first Canadian-born coach in the NBA as an assistant under Lenny Wilkens for Toronto and he’s been trying to devise ways to stop Nash since.
Nash is shooting 54.7 percent (29-for-53) from 3-point range in his career against the Raptors while averaging 14.8 points and 9.5 assists.
In Phoenix’s 105-103 loss to Minnesota on Friday night, Nash was held to six points on 3-of-8 shooting. The Suns have lost two straight entering this stretch on the road, where they are 10-7.
“Get the first one - that’s how you start off a road trip,” said Phoenix swingman Jason Richardson, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer versus the Timberwolves. “If we go out there and get the first one, it’ll help us out on this long road trip.”
Phoenix will be facing a Toronto team that continues to be hurt by Calderon’s absence. The Raptors committed 20 turnovers in a 111-104 loss at Indiana on Friday night.
Calderon is averaging 12.9 points and 8.5 assists against 2.1 turnovers.
Against the Pacers, Toronto did get Jermaine O’Neal back for the first time in 10 games. The veteran big man, who had been out with a bruised right knee, finished with two points in 17 minutes.
Chris Bosh had another outstanding game for the Raptors, finishing with 25 points and 16 rebounds. The two-time All-Star had 42 points and 13 boards in Toronto’s last matchup with Phoenix, but the Suns won 122-103 at home on Dec. 22, 2007.
Nash had 16 assists and no turnovers in that game, adding seven points and six rebounds.