Steve Nash wouldn't mind some additional rest before the postseason starts, but with the Phoenix Suns fighting for a playoff spot, the 36-year-old point guard might not get much time off.
With Nash expected to be in the starting lineup Friday, the Suns will try to win their fifth straight overall and seventh in a row over the Los Angeles Clippers, who are looking to extend their winning streak to four.
Nash, the league leader with 11.2 assists per game, was sidelined for Tuesday's 104-102 victory at Oklahoma City due to a sore lower back and an abdominal strain. It was the first game he had missed this season.
Back in the lineup Wednesday, Nash hit his first eight shots and scored 20 points with 13 assists in a 106-95 win over Philadelphia.
"I didn't feel great going into the game tonight, but things went well for me," Nash told the Suns' official Web site. "The ball went into the basket, and a lot of that has to do with having fresh legs. For me, it was nice not to tweak anything and contribute. Hopefully my health will be better from here out.
"In an ideal world, I'd feel great playing every day the rest of the way," he added. "If that's not the case, it'll be great to get another game or two (off), if we can afford it."
The Suns (36-23) have won 10 of 12 and are 13 games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season. Phoenix is 1 1/2 games behind Southwest Division-leading Dallas for the fourth spot in the Western Conference but just 2 1/2 in front of Portland for eighth.
Phoenix will look to improve to 6-1 since the All-Star break with a seventh straight victory over the Clippers (24-33). Los Angeles, though, has won three in a row following a season-high six-game slide.
Chris Kaman had 21 points and 15 rebounds while Drew Gooden, acquired from Washington last week, scored 20 with 13 boards as the Clippers capped a 3-1 homestand with Wednesday's 97-91 victory over Detroit. The last time Los Angeles won four straight was from Dec. 31-Jan. 10.
"I'm beginning to get comfortable with my new team," Gooden said. "I'm just trying to fit in. We are trying to play as a team and get some wins with the new players we have. I played 14 straight minutes tonight, which means I'm meeting some of (interim coach Kim Hughes') expectations."
The addition of Gooden to the Clippers' front court could help against Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, who is averaging 25.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in the last 11 games.
In the teams' last matchup, Stoudemire had 26 points to lead seven Suns in double figures in a 124-93 victory Dec. 25. It was Phoenix's fifth straight home win in this series.
Suns guard Jason Richardson looks for his fourth consecutive 20-plus point outing after scoring 24 on Wednesday. Phoenix has won nine straight when he has scored at least 20.
"You know what Steve's going to do, what Amare's going to do, throw me in there and we're pretty deadly," Richardson said.
Phoenix has won three straight at home while Los Angeles has dropped three in a row and 15 of 17 on the road.