Suns Clamp Down On Pacers To Win 5th Straight

Wednesday, February 28th 2007, 6:00 am
By: News On 6

The high-octane Phoenix Suns showed they can also play defense when they need to.

Steve Nash had 25 points and 11 assists and the Phoenix Suns rallied from 18 points down in the third quarter to beat the Pacers 103-92 Tuesday night. The Suns gave up just 13 points over the final 15 minutes.

``We missed a lot of shots,'' Nash said. ``Somehow, we were able to pick up our defense, and it gave us a chance to get hot.''

The final score marked the biggest lead of the game for the Suns, who stretched their winning streak to five games.

``I've never seen a team that is able to play their style of game at their level,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ``Nash is certainly the key guy, but they've got the right players around him.''

The Pacers led 77-59 with 5 minutes left in the third period, but managed only one more basket the rest of that quarter and just five baskets in the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Suns, meanwhile, pulled within 88-87 on a basket by Amare Stoudemire and took their first lead since the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Nash. After one of seven turnovers by Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, Nash scored again and followed with another 3-pointer as Phoenix began pulling away.

In other NBA games, it was Dallas 91, Minnesota 65; Cleveland 97, New Orleans 89; New Jersey 113, Washington 101; and Milwaukee 122, Golden State 101.

Stoudemire had 23 points and 18 rebounds and Shawn Marion added 22 points for Phoenix, which leads the NBA in scoring at 110.9 points.

O'Neal led Indiana with 28 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots and tied his career high with seven assists.

``We've got to play an entire game. Either you play or you don't,'' O'Neal said. ``At this point of the season, I don't have a lot of answers. We've got to play defense and help each other.''

Phoenix improved to 14-0 on the road against Eastern Conference teams. A win at Philadelphia on Wednesday night would make the Suns the first team to sweep its road games against the opposite conference.

Mavericks 91, Timberwolves 65

At Minneapolis, Dirk Nowitzki had 23 points and 14 rebounds and Josh Howard bounced back from a sprained ankle suffered the previous night to lead the Mavericks to their 13th straight victory.

Howard had 17 points. Jason Terry added 18 points and seven assists for Dallas, which improved to a league-best 48-9. The Mavericks, who never trailed in this one, are 11-0 on the second night of back-to-back games.

Kevin Garnett led the lethargic Timberwolves with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Ricky Davis scored 15 points and Mark Blount added 10. They shot a franchise-worst 29.6 percent from the field (24-for-81).

Cavaliers 97, Hornets 89

At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 35 points, hitting two 3-pointers in the last minute to finally put away New Orleans.

James knocked down a 25-footer with 49.9 seconds left, and then nailed another 3 from 26 feet with 24.2 seconds to go, helping the Cavaliers outscore the Hornets 11-6 over the final four minutes.

Cleveland improved to 14-8 against Western Conference teams, the top mark among Eastern squads.

James added eight assists, his final one going to rookie Daniel Gibson, whose 3-pointer with 1:42 left made it 91-85 and enabled the Cavs to hang on despite blowing a 15-point lead in the second half.

David West had 25 points for the Hornets, who went 8-4 in February.

Nets 113, Wizards 101

Jason Kidd had 26 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and the host Nets hit a franchise-record 16 3-pointers in a victory over the injury-ravaged Wizards.

Vince Carter added 27 points and Bostjan Nachbar came off the bench to score 23 as the Nets won their third straight and handed the Wizards their third consecutive loss.

Gilbert Arenas had 26 points on 7-of-25 shooting for the Wizards, who played without All-Star forward Caron Butler (back spasms) for the second straight game, and Antawn Jamison, sidelined with a knee injury since late January.

Jarvis Hayes added 21 points for Washington and Roger Mason Jr. had 18, which tied his career high.

Bucks 122, Warriors 101

At Milwaukee, Michael Redd scored 31 points, including six 3-pointers, to lead the Bucks.

Charlie Bell added 20 points, Mo Williams had 16 and a season-high 13 assists. Ruben Patterson added 19 points and Andrew Bogut had 13 and 14 rebounds to help Milwaukee win consecutive games for the first time since its six-game winning streak in December.

Monta Ellis scored 17 points and Al Harrington added 15 for the Warriors.