Updated Mar 30, 2012 - 2:32 pm
Suns forward Grant Hill undergoes knee surgery
Hill missed the Suns' last two games -- both of which were losses -- with what was described as "right knee inflammation."
Hill underwent an MRI Thursday that revealed the injury first suffered in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers March 25 after Hill took a charge.
The Suns find themselves with a 25-26 record with 15 regular season games remaining. Currently, Phoenix is two games behind Utah and Houston, who hold the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
"It's going to be tough," Suns guard Steve Nash said about fighting for a playoff spot without Hill. "We kind of need everything to go exactly our way these last few weeks, and we're going to have to just be really tough -- physically and mentally -- and together, and try to find a way to win some of these games that people don't expect us to win."
The 39-year-old Hill has been unusually healthy since joining the Suns before the 2007-08 season after an injury-ravaged six-year stay in Orlando. Hill has missed only 20 games in a Suns uniform and the team is 11-9 when the veteran is in street clothes.
However, Phoenix is just 1-4 without Hill on the floor this season.
"At the end of the day somebody's just going to have to step in and pick up where he left off," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said about moving on without Hill. "We're still trying to battle to stay in this playoff race, so somebody's obviously going to have to elevate their game.
"We'll stick some guys in there and see who can do it for us."
Hill is the Suns' best defensive player, and in his absence, opponents have flourished. Phoenix allows an average of 97.6 points per game, but with Hill on the bench, that number increases to 103.2 points per contest.
So while Hill helps out in a variety ways on the offensive end, his absence will hurt most on defense.
"What it does is that it takes away some of the flexibility that we have that we can do from a defensive standpoint," Gentry said, adding that the team can still be solid with standard match-ups. "We still have to rebound the basketball and we still have to not turn it over.
"Nothing has changed with him being out, the emphasis still has to be on us executing and taking care of the basketball and then being able to rebound it and being solid in taking away dribble-penetration."
Arizona Sports' Craig Grialou contributed to this report
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