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Steve Nash will continue to play through rib injury

Jan 2, 2012, 3:12 PM EDT

New Orleans Hornets v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

The Suns haven’t been themselves offensively this season, and neither has Steve Nash. Traditionally one of the league’s best shooters, Nash has managed to go just 7-of-29 from the field over his last three games, and hasn’t cracked double digits in scoring since the season-opener against New Orleans.

A rib injury is likely the cause of Nash’s woes, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. It occurred in the season opener after a collision with the Hornets’ Greivis Vasquez.

“It’s like I’m holding my breath a lot,” Nash said. “I’m tired a lot. I’m bracing. It’s not fun.

“It’s definitely affected my shot and mobility.”

The good news is that there’s a legitimate reason for Nash’s poor shooting performance over the past few games. The bad news may be that as the injury continues to linger, Nash is going to continue to play through it.

“I’m not sure if sitting out is going to make it any better,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said, before his team took the floor against the Warriors on Monday afternoon. “It’s just something he has to deal with, unfortunately. He’s a competitor and wants to be out there so he’ll do the best he can, I don’t have any doubt about that.”

The thinking here is that some Nash is better than none for a Suns team that has only one win in four tries on the young season. Nash is still creating and dishing at an above average level, recording 12 assists in the team’s lone win, and six in the loss at Oklahoma City.

But on the flip side, three-point shooting has been a big problem overall for Phoenix, and Nash’s poor showing from deep is a big reason why.

The Suns are tied for eighth in the league in attempts per game at 21.3, but are just 27th in the league in three-point shooting percentage at .259. Nash is tied for the team lead in attempts with an average of four per game, but the injury is clearly limiting his production from distance: Nash is a dismal 3-of-13 from behind the arc over his last three games.

“Steve’s not a 31 percent [three-point] shooter, he hasn’t been in the 13 or 14 years he’s been in the league,” Gentry said.

This year’s Suns team relies on Nash even more than in seasons past to create for his teammates. If Nash is able to go, and if the team truly believes that the injury won’t get worse by playing through it, then you can expect him to remain a part of the starting lineup.

“Obviously we need him, it’s not a situation where we want to play without him,” Gentry said. “So we’ll see how it progresses and we’ll make decisions accordingly.

“There’s no magic formula that’s going to make him all better. We’ve just got to try to manage it the best we can.”

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