Suns coach Terry Porter is trying to find time for Leandro Barbosa at the wing with Steve Nash, a mix that started Friday's fourth quarter well. But that Barbosa has been sacrificed to maximize the best players' minutes, turning Barbosa into a backup point guard.
"I don't practice as a point guard so I don't know all the plays," Barbosa said. "Every time I catch the ball, I look to Terry to see what we can run. Most of the time, we just give the ball to Shaq. I'm just focusing on not turning the ball over."
Barbosa has made 30 percent of his 3-pointers this season after hitting 41 percent in his first five years. With Nash out, he thrived in the extra time at Oklahoma City (career-high six steals) and at Memphis (season-high 28 points). He kept up his impact with Nash back Friday, tallying 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in 23 minutes.
"That's my game," he said. "Be aggressive. It's tough for me sometimes to be aggressive because of the circumstances."
Porter said the point guard burden is eased on Barbosa because he can pass into O'Neal and play off him. Porter wants to wean Barbosa from early attacks and get him to run the half-court sets.
"He's not a point guard but he's a guard," Nash said. "He's extremely talented. Sometimes, to hamper him with the responsibilities of the point guard-position is at your own peril. You weigh down his talents and heighten the things that aren't necessarily beneficial to him. You have to keep in mind he's a scorer. He's being a point guard and a serviceable one out of necessity but that's not his true position. In some ways, he shouldn't be judged on that. His athleticism is a benefit at all times."
can we please trade him now?!?!