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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, December 19th (All times eastern)

Phoenix Suns (12-13) at Oklahoma City Thunder (19-8), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The new-look Phoenix Suns hit the hardwood in Oklahoma City tonight against a Thunder team aiming to extend its winning streak to a season-high six games.

The Suns pulled off a blockbuster trade on Saturday acquiring former All-Star shooting guard Vince Carter, along with athletic swingman Mickael Pietrus, center Marcin Gortat and a first-round pick in the 2011 draft from Orlando in exchange for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and the little-used Earl Clark.

Richardson was averaging a team-high 19.3 points and will be replaced as the Suns new "go-to-guy" by Carter, an eight-time All-Star, who averaged 15.1 points in 22 games for the Magic this year.

The new trio likely will not debut, however, until Monday's game in San Antonio or next Thursday's home game against Miami.

"Carter and Pietrus give us great defensive presence on the perimeter as well as they should be extremely dynamic offensively," Suns President Lon Babby said after the team's third major in-season deal since 2008. "Of course we all recognize that we had a need here for an increased interior presence, size and rebound and Gortat is really someone we've had our eye on since we got here."

On the floor, Phoenix dropped the opener of a very tough three-game road trip in Dallas on Friday when Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry both finished with 18 points, and the Mavericks cruised to a 106-91 victory. The loss, however, was almost minor in comparison to a very scary incident involving All-Star point guard Steve Nash.

Nash left the contest with 7:17 left in the first quarter after suffering a stinger when he collided with the thigh of Dallas center Tyson Chandler while going for a loose ball. He fell to the floor and immediately called for the Suns' medical team and did not return to the game.

"I just bumped my head at a weird angle and had a spinal cord situation," said Nash. "I lost feeling in my arms and legs. There were ten seconds there that were really scary, but it came back, and they just didn't feel like it was worth risking it tonight.

"I'm optimistic about that the amount that it improved already that hopefully I will be able to play Sunday or Monday (at San Antonio)."

Hakim Warrick led Phoenix with 15 points and 14 rebounds in the loss and Goran Dragic supplied 14 points and a career-high 10 assists, replacing Nash in the game's opening minutes.

Richardson scored 12 and Channing Frye grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to go along with eight points for the Suns, who have lost four of five overall.

Nash is being listed as doubtful tonight, not a good sign for the Suns. Phoenix is 0-2 this season without the two-time former MVP and 9-19 without him since he returned to the franchise in 2004-05.

The Thunder, meanwhile, continued to roll on Friday when Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead six players in double-figures, and Oklahoma City kept on rolling with a 102-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Russell Westbrook added 21 points for the Thunder, who have won five straight to move into first place in the Northwest Division after Utah lost on Friday. Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison both added 12 points, and Jeff Green and James Harden each had 11 in the victory.

"We had spurts where we gave up a few points, but overall it was good," Durant said. "We moved the basketball pretty well, and we got some easy baskets. It was a good win for us."

Phoenix has won 10 of the last 12 meetings in the series but the Thunder took two of three last year.

12/19 10:51:47 ET


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