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Marion, Suns catch fire in fourth for ninth straight win

Dec 9, 2006 - 3:28 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Surprisingly, Shawn Marion and the Phoenix Suns got stronger in the in the fourth quarter.

Marion scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and two-time MVP Steve Nash added 16 and 14 assists as the Suns posted their season-high ninth straight win with a 116-111 victory over the Boston Celtics, who have dropped five straight games.

Boris Diaw and Raja Bell each had 14 points and Amare Stoudemire chipped in 13 for Phoenix, which shot 71 percent (15-of-21) from the field in the closing period.

"They (Suns) don't miss shots," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "They made every tough shot down the stretch."

Coming off a thrilling 161-157 double-overtime triumph at New Jersey on Thursday - the fourth-highest scoring game of all time - the Suns did not show any signs of fatigue down the stretch against the Celtics.

"We are just finding ways to win right now and playing pretty good basketball," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "This was not a thing of beauty, but with what happened last night and to come out and be able to do this is pretty good."

"It's (back-to-back games) part of it," Marion said. "We are logging a lot of minutes and fatigue does become a factor. But sometimes you just have to throw it out the window and get it done and we did it."

With 3:15 left, a 3-pointer by Marion put Phoenix ahead for a good at 104-102. After a missed jumper by Paul Pierce, who scored 36 points, Stoudemire converted a layup for a four-point cushion with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

"Everybody hit some big shots at the end and that's good," said Marion, who made 9-of-16 shots. "We have a lot of people on this team who can knock down open shots and we did it."

Phoenix maintained at least a two-point advantage thereafter until Nash found Marion for an elbow jumper, extending the margin to 114-108 with just 16 seconds to go.

"We kind of stole one tonight," Nash said. "We were a little tired, a little sloppy and mentally fatigued but we stepped up and made the right decisions and plays when it counted and just had a lot of mental toughness that kept us in the game."

The Suns committed 19 turnovers but improved to 2-0 on their five-game road trip.

Ryan Gomes and Tony Allen scored 18 points apiece for Boston, which has lost its last five home meetings with Phoenix.

"They're (Suns) a high-scoring team and we stayed right with them but it's all about defense and we didn't get the stops when we needed," Gomes said.

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    PHOENIX 116

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    Suns vs. CelticsDec 8 9:40 PM

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    PHOENIX 80

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    PHOENIX 59

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    PHOENIX 35

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