PHOENIX - Steve Nash says he is no "Joe Namath who walked in in his fur coat," but the Suns playmaker is not backing away from his postgame promise that Phoenix will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
Not might win, not try hard to win, not hope to win.
"I just said we're going home and win Game 6 and come back in Game 7,'' Nash said after practice Friday. "Take it how you want to take it."
The Suns didn't seem devastated by Thursday night's last-second 103-101 loss in Los Angeles. Quite the opposite. The close call seemed to bolster their belief they can win this series, even though the Lakers are up 3-2 and can advance to the NBA Finals for the third straight year with a victory here Saturday night.
"There's some really good things that we did [Thursday] night, some things to build on," the Suns' Grant Hill said. "I think the main thing is the confidence that we can beat this team.''
Nash's assurance may not have packed the flamboyance of Namath's famous guarantee that his huge underdog Jets team would beat Baltimore in Super Bowl III, but it was enough to rile Game 5 hero Ron Artest.
"That's like no respect for us. There's no respect. That's how it's been for a long time this season. I'm sure we'll talk about it," Artest said before the Lakers left Los Angeles on Friday. "Coaches have no respect for the Lakers at all. They have no respect for me.''
Phoenix rallied from 18 down in the second half to tie it at 101-101 when Jason Richardson banked in a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds to play. The Lakers pulled it out when Kobe Bryant threw up an air ball and Artest hustled to retrieve it, then banked in a shot at the buzzer.
Artest fined. Artest was fined by the Lakers on Friday for showing up late to practice.
Coach Phil Jackson said it was an innocent mix-up by the forward, who showed up 30 minutes late. Artest misread the practice starting time on the locker room dry-erase board in the excitement following Thursday's win.
"It was just one of those nights," said Jackson, who didn't disclose the amount of the fine. "I think he was just so excited after the game that all that processing and things that were on the board there didn't all register."