But that moment Wednesday night — an image that served as a testament to ball movement — said plenty about Nash.
In a tepid affair that teetered back and forth at Madison Square Garden, the best player was Nash, a 37-year-old point guard who can join the Knicks after the season when he becomes a free agent.
With a banged-up Carmelo Anthony firing blanks and Amar’e Stoudemire not doing enough to compensate, Nash’s 26 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds paced the .
The Suns’ fifth win of the season, against nine losses, was assured when he hit the game-sealing free throws — all six of them.
If this was his last game at the Garden as a visiting player, it was some finale.
“It’s no secret,” Nash said. “This is the basketball capital of the world. I live here in the summer, I have a lot of friends here, my former coach and teammate play here, so it’s a homecoming in some ways for me and it’s always fun to play here.”
He added: “With this condensed season, I put all my focus into preparing to play every day. It’s tough to go to Chicago and get in at 3 or 4 in the morning, and play tonight and to recover. It takes more than a couple cold beers and a nap in the afternoon. So I’m working hard every day just to get right every night and feel fit.”
Ever cerebral, Nash dominated the first quarter, sinking five of six shots, then turned distributor. He mixed the rudimentary passes that moved the ball to the open man with a lookaway feed in transition and a pass that zipped past Stoudemire to become the foundation of a 5-point offensive trip late in the first half. Those 5 points gave the Suns a 6-point lead, 43-37.
In the second half, Nash’s ability to find spot-up shooters and to push the ball quickly in transition allowed the Suns to fend off the Knicks.
“I think you can see,” Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said, “that you watch Steve play, and I don’t see where he’s missed a beat. I think he’s playing as well as he did when he was the M.V.P. of the league. He’s the guy that we count on to do almost everything for us offensively.”
Entering the game, Nash was tied for the N.B.A. lead by averaging 10.0 assists and led all guards with five double-doubles. And after making 9 of 12 shots Wednesday, he improved his shooting percentage to a career-high 55.2.
“Kobe calls him the best shooter in the league,” Gentry said. “I think if you give him an open shot, the chances are that it’s going to go in. The thing we’d like to see him do is be even more aggressive offensively. His whole thing is he likes to get people involved in the game offensively. You know, when we need him the most though, he’s come through for us a lot of the times.”
The question of whether Nash will continue coming through for the Suns for much longer remains to be seen.
“In the summer, we’ll deal with free agency,” Nash said. “But at this point I’m a hundred percent committed to the Suns and I’m not looking forward.”
The Knicks, who are struggling on offense while waiting for the injured Baron Davis to join the active roster, may be casting covetous glances at Nash. But when Nash kept visiting the foul line late in Wednesday’s game, a hoarse-throated Knicks fan wanted no part of him, yelling, “Anybody but Nash!”