Suns 126 - 98 Jazz
  for this game

Barbosa's big second quarter helps Suns crush Jazz

Apr 15, 2007 - 6:01 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Reserve Leandro Barbosa saw his Phoenix Suns teammates having fun early and decided to join in.

Barbosa scored 16 of his 28 in the second quarter and Steve Nash dished out 18 assists as the Suns routed the Utah Jazz, 126-98.

Raja Bell and Shawn Marion each had 18 points and Amare Stoudemire added 14 and 11 rebounds for Phoenix, which is a victory shy of locking up the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

"That's our motivation," Marion said. "I think we've still got to keep playing. We won tonight, got a good win, but we've still got San Antonio on our heels. So we've got to go out there and keep playing for the second seed."

The Suns (61-19) lead the idle San Antonio Spurs (58-21) by 2 1/2 games in the West with two contest left on their schedule. The Spurs have three games left, but hold the tiebreaker over Phoenix if the teams were to finish with the same record. San Antonio travels to Dallas to take on the top-seeded Mavericks on Sunday afternoon.

"We'd like for Dallas to take care of San Antonio on Sunday," said Bell, who connected on 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. "But tonight was a big win for us."

Barbosa, one of the leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year honors, shot 9-of-17 from the field, including 6-of-9 in the second quarter when Phoenix extended an 11-point lead entering the period to as high as 24.

Midway through the period, the Jazz used a 10-2 run to pull to within five, but Barbosa answered with six straight points, burying a three-pointer and completing a three-point play. "He was great the whole game," Nash said.

"Second quarter, he went on a streak there. He's a lot of fun to play with, lot of fun to watch." Barbosa's steal at the 3:36 mark of the second quarter ignited another crucial sequence for the Suns, as they went on an 18-7 run on their way to a 22-point halftime advantage.

"They were sucking in on me," said Nash, whose 18 assists tied for his second-highest total of the season. "I really didn't dictate it. I just took what they gave me. They were sucking in and taking away penetration, and I just tried to find the open guy."

The win prevented a series sweep by the Jazz, who had won the first three meetings of the season, including a come-from-behind win in Phoenix in early February.

The Suns decisively bucked that trend at EnergySolutions Arena Saturday night. The Jazz never led as Phoenix took control early by scoring the first six points of the game and shot 52.4 percent from the floor.

"We definitely didn't want to get swept," Nash said. "But we also needed a win tonight, and needed to win two out of our last three. More importantly, we just couldn't give up games that could give us a chance to slip into the third spot."

A night after holding the Lakers to just 39 percent shooting in a 93-85 victory, the Suns' defense came through once again, converting 15 Utah turnovers into 27 points and holding the Jazz to just 44 percent shooting, including a combined 3-for-18 from starting guards Deron Williams and Derek Fisher.

Mehmet Okur scored 20 points and hauled in 10 rebounds and Carlos Boozer added 18 and 10 for Utah (49-31), which fell two games behind the Houston Rockets for home-court advantage in the opening round of the West playoffs. Houston beat Charlotte, 123-112, on Saturday.

Both the Jazz and Rockets have two games left, including a head-to-head meeting Wednesday night in Utah. A Rockets win or Jazz loss clinches home court for Houston.

"We've just got to hope they lose," Williams said. "One of those games, we've got to beat them."

  • NBA
    PHOENIX 126

    Apr 14 11:25 PM

  • NBA
    PHOENIX 96
    UTAH 73 END, 3RD QTR

    Apr 14 10:54 PM

  • NBA
    PHOENIX 68

    Apr 14 10:08 PM

  • NBA
    PHOENIX 32
    UTAH 19 END, 1ST QTR

    Apr 14 9:35 PM