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Nash Has Triumphant Return; A.I. Fizzles

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Two-time MVP Steve Nash was as sharp as usual in his return from injury while Allen Iverson showed some rust.

Nash, who had missed four and a half games with inflammation in his right shoulder, had 13 points and 12 assists in the Phoenix Suns' 115-90 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

His performance was typical Nash, driving the lane and dishing off assists, and mixing it up by pulling up and hitting jumpers.

``On a personal level, it's nice to just be out there with your teammates, and as a group, it's a lot of fun to win after three straight losses,'' Nash said.

``It's maybe good for us that we suffered a little bit, and hopefully we can regroup here.''

Iverson scored only nine points in Denver's 95-80 loss to San Antonio. He had missed nine of the Nuggets' last 10 games before the All-Star break with a right ankle sprain.

``The shots that I took, I know I can hit with my eyes closed,'' said Iverson, who went 3-of-11 from the field. ``Maybe I should have closed them. I took 11 shots, and I thought I got 11 good looks.''

Iverson said his ankle bothered him on a couple of plays ``but for the most part I was all right.

``Usually when I come back from injury, I have my rhythm back. I didn't today,'' he said.

In other NBA games, it was: Washington 112, Minnesota 100; Charlotte 104, New Orleans 100; Detroit 84, Milwaukee 83; New York 100, Orlando 94; Chicago 106, Atlanta 81; Seattle 121, Memphis 105; Sacramento 104, Boston 101; and Portland 103, Utah 100.

In San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 17 points, Manu Ginobili added 14 and Tim Duncan had 12 as the Spurs played at home for the first time in three weeks.

After trailing for most of the first, the Spurs took a 25-21 lead into the second quarter. Parker helped them extend the lead scoring 10 of his points in the quarter. San Antonio led 49-38 at the break.

The Spurs broke the game open in the third quarter outscoring the Nuggets 30-10. Carmelo Anthony and Iverson were just a combined 1-for-10 in the quarter as Denver had nine turnovers.

In Los Angeles, Shawn Marion scored 31 points and had nine rebounds.

The slumping Clippers, who lost their fourth in a row, were led by Corey Maggette's 19 points and seven rebounds. Elton Brand, back after sitting out two games because of back spasms, had 17 points and five rebounds.

The Clippers were missing swing man Cuttino Mobley (left groin strain) and center Chris Kaman (flu-like symptoms).

Wizards 112, Timberwolves 100

At Washington, Gilbert Arenas scored 38 points to help the Wizards beat the Timberwolves.

Arenas, who has struggled with his jump shot all month, relied on layups and free throws for most of his points. He went 12-for-24 from the field and 13-for-15 from the line but made only 1 of 8 from 3-point range _ including an air ball _ and is 10-for-57 behind the arc over his last seven games.

Kevin Garnett led the Timberwolves with 26 points on 8-for-17 shooting and had 13 rebounds.

Bobcats 104, Hornets 100

At Charlotte, N.C., Raymond Felton had 21 points and 11 assists and outplayed Chris Paul in a matchup of second-year point guards.

Paul, a former college opponent of Felton, had 20 points and seven assists, but the Hornets lost for only the fourth time in 13 games.

Pistons 84, Bucks 83

At Milwaukee, Chauncey Billups scored 19 points to help the Pistons hold off the Bucks.

Detroit spoiled the return of Milwaukee star Michael Redd, who played for the first time since straining the patellar tendon in his left knee Jan. 5. Redd scored 17 in limited minutes for Milwaukee.

Knicks 100, Magic 94

At New York, Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry each scored 20 points to lead New York to its 24th win, surpassing last season's total.

The victory moved the Knicks to within three games of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

Bulls 106, Hawks 81

At Chicago, Chris Duhon scored 17 points and the Bulls held the Hawks without a field goal in the third quarter.

It was the first time the Bulls held a team without a field goal in a quarter. Chicago's previous best was holding the Knicks to a single basket in a quarter in 1999.

Atlanta was outscored 28-8 in the third quarter and finished the period 0-for-16 from the field.

Salim Stoudamire gave the Hawks their first basket of the second half on a three-point play with 10:34 left in the game.

SuperSonics 121, Grizzlies 105

At Seattle, Rashard Lewis returned to his early season form, scoring 21 of his 34 points in the first half, and the SuperSonics won their third straight.

Lewis missed 22 games in late December, January and earlier this month with an injured shooting hand.

Mike Miller led the Grizzlies with 20 points and rookie Rudy Gay finished with 19.

Kings 104, Celtics 101

At Sacramento, Calif., Kevin Martin scored 22 points and Ron Artest added 18 and a key blocked shot as the Kings sent the Celtics to their 19th loss in 20 games.

The Kings managed just one field goal and five points in the final 9:37, but still held off the Celtics' late rally. Brad Miller scored Sacramento's final points on two free throws with 1:37 to play, and Artest blocked Al Jefferson's shot under the basket to thwart one of Boston's several attempts to get closer.

Paul Pierce scored 26 points and Delonte West had 23 before missing a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Trail Blazers 103, Jazz 100

At Portland, Ore., Brandon Roy scored 27 points to lead the Trail Blazers over the Jazz.

Zach Randolph added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who beat Utah for the first time in their last six tries.

Mehmet Okur had 25 points and eight rebounds to lead Utah, which saw its six-game win streak end. Okur had two chances to tie the game in the final 8 seconds, but missed both 3-pointers.
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