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Nash, Suns withstand Randolph and Trail Blazers

Jan 20, 2007 - 6:16 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- When the streaking Phoenix Suns needed a big play, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash delivered.

Nash hit two big baskets and two free throws down the stretch as the Suns won their 12th straight game, 106-101, over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Several times in the final two minutes Portland cut Phoenix's lead to three only to see Nash respond.

After Zach Randolph cut Portland's deficit to 96-93 with 1:34 left, Nash nailed a 12-footer in the lane with 76 seconds left to increase the lead to five.

Following two free throws by Portland rookie LaMarcus Aldridge, the four-time All-Star made a jumper from the top of the key to make the score 100-95 with 50 seconds remaining.

Randolph scored on a follow shot 30 seconds later to get Portland within 103-101, but Nash hit two free throws and Raja Bell followed with two from the charity stripe to seal the win for the Pacific Division leaders.

"Steve had some big shots at the end but it shouldn't have come down to that," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We didn't play real good tonight. We didn't have our focus, we didn't come ready to play."

"The Suns did what good teams do," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillian said. "They had to make baskets and Nash made a big bucket down the stretch. We pretty much executed the game plan but we gave them a few run-outs late."

Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points, Boris Diaw tied a season high with 21 and Leandro Barbosa added 20 for Phoenix, which has won six straight and 12 of its last 14 vs. Portland.

"We came out a little slow tonight," Stoudemire said. "We should have come out a lot stronger. They came out strong, we came out slow. We could have put them away early but we didn't."

Nash had 13 points and 15 assists, his 26th double-double of the season.

"I think we were very lucky to win tonight," Nash said. "We made some difficult shots at the end and we relied on a lot of talent and a lot of luck tonight and that is not good enough."

The Suns shot 53 percent (38-of-72) from the field and have won 28 of their last 30 games.

"We have been a little complacent lately," Nash said. "It is harder to learn a lesson when you don't lose. We need to suffer a bit sometime and we haven't suffered that much.

"A loss wouldn't be a bad thing. It would hurt us because we are chasing home court but in the grand scheme of things it is about being the best possible team we can be."

Randolph tied a season high with 36 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and rookie Brandon Roy added 22 points for the Trail Blazers, who shot 48 percent (43-of-90) and have lost all three games to the Suns this season.

"The loss is disappointing and encouraging," Randolph said. "Phoenix is picked to win the title and to know we can go out there and stay with them playing our game is encouraging."

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