Bulls 102 - 112 Suns
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Barbosa, Hill lead Suns to fourth straight win

Nov 16, 2007 - 7:49 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Grant Hill and Leandro Barbosa got the Phoenix Suns going, and Boris Diaw came alive at just the right time.

Hill and Barbosa combined for 27 points in the second quarter and Diaw scored seven points in a 90-second span during a crucial fourth-quarter run as the Phoenix Suns posted their fourth straight win, a 112-102 triumph over the struggling Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

Steve Nash had 10 points and 15 assists and Shawn Marion scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half for the Suns, who entered the fourth period tied before making 15-of-21 shots to pull away.

Hill and Barbosa provided the spark that built a 56-46 halftime lead, and the Suns increased the margin to 62-48 early in the second half. But Chicago responded and closed the third on a 9-0 run, tying the game on a straightaway 3-pointer by the struggling Kirk Hinrich with 20 seconds left.

Neither team could muster more than a two-point lead through the first five minutes of the fourth quarter before Diaw woke up.

"Boris had a start that was bad," suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It is a good thing we don't carry concealed weapons because he was playing bad and I was pulling my hair out. But when Amare (Stoudemire) got into foul trouble Boris turned it on to another gear that he has and has to find more often."

The 6-8 forward, who scored just four points and committed five turnovers over the first three quarters, began his impressive 90-second surge by driving the right lane for a basket. He then hit a jumper from the right wing and converted a three-point play on a reverse layup off a give-and-go pass from Nash that gave Phoenix an 88-87 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left.

"I was looking for my shot before I just wasn't making them," Diaw said. "In the fourth quarter there was a sense of urgency. We had to close it out and finish the game."

Barbosa, who drained four shots from the arc in the second quarter, then took center stage again, sinking a wide-open 3-pointer from the right wing for a 93-87 lead with six minutes left. Barbosa finished with 25 points, hitting 5-of-7 shots from the arc.

"I was feeling great and hit some shots at a good time," Barbosa said. "Steve (Nash) can always find you and he found me open a couple of times and I was happy to make the shots."

A tip-in and a layup by Marion in the next minute capped the run and provided Phoenix just enough cushion.

"There were stretches where we played a higher quality of basketball for sure but we are not in this to do that, we are in this to win games," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said." At key moments we fell asleep defensively. We also had trouble handling the ball and you can't do that against a team of that quality."

Ben Gordon scored 24 points and Luol Deng added 23 for the Bulls, who dropped to 1-6 this season. Hinrich, who was 0-of-6 against Toronto on Saturday and entered shooting 32 percent for the season, shot 6-of-13 and finished with 17 points.

"They executed and we didn't," Deng said. "They had guys slipping in screens, they got the ball inside they did a good job."

Hill, a 13-year-veteran who has been bothered by severe ankle injuries for much of this decade, scored 11 points in the second quarter. He used an array of jumpers, drives and dunks, resembling the player who averaged over 21 points per game during the first six years of his career, when he was considered one of the top players in the league.

Hill, who entered Tuesday's game against the New York Knicks shooting just 40 percent, was 7-of-8 from the floor for 21 points in that contest and 9-of-14 against the Bulls. He finished with a season-high 24 points and got a lot of help from

Barbosa, who scored 16 points in the second quarter.

"I am starting to get my legs and starting to turn the corner," Hill said. "I have been able to find a rhythm and get my spots plus my teammates are learning what I can do. It is a process adjusting to this system."

With Phoenix leading, 32-20, with 8:47 left in the first half, Hill started a 24-11 spurt with two free throws. He connected on a short jumper, drained a 3-pointer and converted a fast-break dunk for a 47-38 edge with 4:20 remaining.

Barbosa, who came off the bench after starting the previous two games for an injured Raja Bell, then took command. The 24-year-old Brazilian drained three consecutive shots from the arc within 93 seconds that pushed the edge to 56-41 with 68 ticks remaining.

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