PHOENIX SUNS

Raja Bell: Steve Nash put ‘a little sauce’ on Robert Horry playoff hip check

Nov 28, 2017, 11:47 AM | Updated: 12:32 pm

The NBA rule penalizing players from leaving the bench during an altercation is well known for having put a speed-bump in the Phoenix Suns’ 2007 championship ambitions.

Former players still believe that speed-bump had everything to do with losing a competitive second-round series against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Suns ultimately won Game 4 to even the series, 2-2, but it came at a cost as Phoenix dropped the next two games, losing the series to the eventual champs.

The catalyst: Spurs forward Robert Horry infamously hip-checked Suns point guard Steve Nash into the scorer’s table, leading to the suspension of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, two key Phoenix players who briefly stepped onto the court to defend their teammate.

And as Suns guard Raja Bell tells it 10 years later, maybe it could’ve been avoided.

“Four years later, I’m hanging out with Steve at a bar in Santa Monica or somewhere, or somewhere in LA, and we’re talking about that … he says he gave that hip check a little bit of flair, that he didn’t really get checked to that degree,” Bell said on his Off the Bench podcast. “Me running over there kind of incited it. I thought he got laid out.

“He admitted to putting a little sauce on that hip check,” Bell added.

Bell was issued a technical foul, and Horry was suspended two games for the play. But it was the Suns’ loss of Stoudemire and Diaw that was more painful.

“They’re not involved in the scuffle,” Bell added. “If you know Boris Diaw, he would be running over there more so to make sure (Spurs guard and fellow Frenchman) Tony Parker didn’t get in a beef than to protect any of us.

“Well, they suspend Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. We wind up losing that series and ultimately a chance — what might have been our best chance — to win an NBA Championship over that stupid-(expletive) rule. They have to learn how to gauge intent, look at the monitor.”

San Antonio went on to beat the Utah Jazz in five games during the conference finals before sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals.

To Bell, Nash’s apparent flop that triggered him to get into a scuffle may have led to more reaction from his teammates, ultimately dooming the Suns in their quest to win a title.

“Damn you, Steve,” Bell said. “Damn you.”

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Raja Bell: Steve Nash put ‘a little sauce’ on Robert Horry playoff hip check