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Nash, Suns spoil Bosh's return

Jan 4, 2007 - 4:50 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Despite the return of All-Star Chris Bosh, Steve Nash made sure the surging Phoenix Suns continued to march forward.

Nash made several key shots in the fourth quarter to lead all five starters in double figures as the Suns posted their fourth straight win, a 100-98 triumph over the Toronto Raptors.

A native of Canada, Nash scored 13 of his 15 points in the final period for the Suns, who improved to an impressive 13-1 against Eastern Conference opponents. He also handed out nine assists.

"(Nash) never fails," Suns guard Raja Bell said. "It's always timely and it's always exactly what we need, whether it be an assist or a big defensive play or big buckets like he did."

The fourth overall pick in 2003, Bosh had missed the previous 12 games with a bruised left knee. He finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.

"I felt good," Bosh said. "There were times that I was huffing and puffing, but I've worked hard in the past."

"He worked really hard to stay in great shape and he really gave us a huge lift first game back," Toronto swingman Anthony Parker said. "It's really unbelievable the things he was able to do first game back."

Darrick Martin and Bosh combined to score 10 points during a stellar 15-4 burst to open the fourth quarter, giving Toronto its first lead of the game, 83-82, with 7:18 remaining.

Nash's 3-pointer from the right wing gave the Suns a 94-92 advantage with 1:19 left. However, Bosh responded with a three-point play on the next possession to regain a one-point edge.

"We did a great job to come back and were able to get up one point, but they did a great job, with Nash making some great plays," Raptors rookie Andrea Bargnani said. "We feel like we should have won because we played well."

Nash scored the next five points, including a pull-up jumper over the outstretched hand of Bosh with 11 seconds left to put Phoenix ahead, 99-95.

"I mean, he struggled all game and then found a way to pull us out of the grave right at the end," Bell said. "I can't say enough about him, he does it every night."

Parker's shot from the arc made it a one-point game, and after Shawn Marion split a pair of free throws, the Raptors had chance to win, but Martin misfired at the buzzer.

"They are a dangerous team and we knew that coming in, so we weren't taking anything for granted," Bell said. "We probably got a little lucky by pulling it out."

Bell scored 17 points and Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudemire added 15 apiece for Phoenix, which shot 46 percent (37-of-80) from the field and survived 18 turnovers.

"We knew they were going to put up a fight, but we pulled it out," said Marion, who had 13 points and nine rebounds. "A win is win, we don't care how it comes."

Bargnani scored 17 points and Parker netted 16 for the Raptors, who shot 42 percent (38-of-90) and held a 40-30 advantage in points in the paint.

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