for this game

Nash and Suns run all over James, Cavs

Jan 12, 2007 - 7:47 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns showed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers exactly where they stand in the NBA landscape.

Nash led an explosive offensive assault with a season-high 21 assists - 14 in the first half - as the Suns pulled away in the second quarter en route to their eighth straight win, a 109-90 victory over the Cavaliers.

Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire posted double-doubles for Phoenix (27-8), which handed Cleveland its worst defeat of the season and won its eighth straight at home over the Eastern Conference foe.

"Our main goal is to come out strong, especially in big games like tonight," Stoudemire said. "They were on a five-game winning streak and we were on a seven-game streak, so tonight was very important for us to come out and set the tone."

"We came out and got our behinds kicked tonight," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "They had their way with us. We fell right into their trap of taking quick shots, long shots early on which fueled their break."

Nash, who has won the MVP award the past two seasons and finished one assist shy of his career high, scored just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, but he tied Kevin Johnson's team record for assists in a half as the Suns closed on a 21-2 run to take a 67-41 lead into the third quarter.

"It feels good for me to see my teammates succeed and score, that's really the bottom line," Nash said. "You get the guys the ball and they make shots, so they deserve a hand in the high-assist game too."

"Steve played great," Marion said. "He keeps everybody involved and racks up assists so easy. He's playing great basketball and we're playing good as a team, and we're trying to improve still."

Nash had six assists during the run that lasted 5 1/2 minutes and Marion scored 13 points on a three-point play, two dunks, two jumpers and a layup.

"We just played really well," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That first half was about as good as we could play, defensively and offensively. We had a little bit of a letdown in the second half, but I just thought overall it was pretty good.

"We ended up with 43 buckets and 36 assists. If you look at the shot distribution, 15 was the most anybody had. Just great ball, these guys are playing together, taking easy shots and moving the ball. (It) doesn't matter who does it, or when they do it, just fun to coach and fun to watch."

James, who has led the Cavaliers to the best record in the Eastern Conference and a season-high five-game winning streak entering the contest, scored 34 points but committed five turnovers.

"It's just one game," James said. "It can be a little disappointing but we don't look at it like that. We have to learn from whatever we did. We did some good things but we also did some bad things.

"We let them get out on the break, they had 34 fast-break points. You can't win, no way you can win an NBA game giving up 34 fast-break points, but that's what they do and they did a good job of getting us on our heels and being on the break."

Cleveland shot just 38 percent (36-of-95), made 9-of-17 from the line and committed 16 turnovers.

"This game is not going to define our season," Cleveland forward Donyell Marshall said. "It is the second game of our road trip and we are 1-1 right now. We just have to stay focused. We've been playing well coming into this game and it's one game."

Marion had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Stoudemire finished with 17 and 13. He had 10 and nine in the opening 10 minutes of the game.

Raja Bell scored 18 points and Leandro Barbosa added 16 for Phoenix, which did not commit a turnover in the first 21 minutes of the game and led by as many as 32 in the third before coasting home.

Drew Gooden scored 11 points but fellow starters Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes and Eric Snow combined for just 15 on 5-of-26 shooting.

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