Suns send Jazz to fifth straight lossDec 13, 2007 - 7:34 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
PHOENIX (Ticker) - In a match up between two teams that have lost their last six games combined, Steve Nash took control.
Nash scored 29 points and dished out 11 assists to lift the Phoenix Suns to a 103-98 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
Shawn Marion added 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Suns who improved to 10-1 against teams with a winning record while snapping a modest two-game losing streak.
Phoenix suffered the two losses to Minnesota and Miami, teams that have a combined record of 9-31, after winning five straight.
"We're not flowing right now but this is how we have to win," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "This is how we have to win and if we build on it, the offense will come. We don't have to talk about it or even think about it because it's the best and it will be the best. If we keep the intensity and just the work ethic we have tonight we will be who we need to be."
The Suns took an 85-77 lead in the fourth thanks to a 9-2 run. Marion hit a 3-pointer in the spurt and made a layup down the stretch to extinguish any chances the Jazz had at a comeback.
"Defense down the stretch was the key. Defense is always a big key," Marion said. "You can definitely score but when you get that big stop when you need to, to seal the win it makes it much easier."
Utah pulled within 94-93 with 2:21 to play before Grant Hill hit a driving lay-up to make it 96-93. Deron Williams missed two free throws with 38 seconds left and Marion scored 23 seconds later to put the game out of reach.
Nash, who had been struggling from the field in the last two games shooting just 33.3 percent (9-for-27), got his offense going again hitting 10-of-12 shots. The two-time MVP dished out 11 assists, snapping his string of seven straight games with 14 or more assists.
"It was nice to have a game with some pressure on us and we knew that we had to play well to beat a team of quality," Nash said. "You have to find a way to win even when it is not easy offensively. I try to be aggressive every game. Tonight the shots were there and I felt a bit better physically. I tried to be more aggressive because I felt my body could take it."
But you can't fault Nash's performance, especially considering he played half the game with a chipped front tooth. Utah's Carlos Boozer hit Nash with an inadvertent forearm while battling for a rebound just before the half. Nash handed the tooth to trainer before going to the locker room at the break and then continued to hand out assists.
"I guess I will spend my day off at the dentist," Nash said. "I had the same tooth bent back into my mouth by Karl Malone five or six years ago."
The Suns held a 67-65 lead entering the final stanza. Boris Diaw opened the quarter with a three-point play to extend the lead to 70-65.
Utah fought back tying it at 73-73 before Hill regained the lead for the Suns on a three-point play giving Phoenix a 76-73 advantage at the 9:27 mark.
After Paul Millsap missed two free throws Matt Harping kept the ball alive for Utah as Millsap scored on a lay up cutting three margin to one 76-75. Leandro Barbosa then hit a jumper at 8:36 again giving phoenix a three point lead.
Following a Utah turnover Shawn Marion added to the Suns lead with a 3-point shot from the baseline then a lay up making it 83-75 with 7:00 left in the game."
"As it turns out we missed a lot of free throws coming down. We're a young team trying to figure out what we are sometimes," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We got a little too anxious. That is one of the things we have a tendency to have done the last couple of weeks."
Boozer scored 24 points and had 13 rebounds and Paul Millsap finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds for Utah, which has lost a season high five straight.
"We felt we played well enough to win the game we had opportunities to win. When they pushed the tempo we were able to get back and stay right with them," Boozer said. "There is no need to panic but there is a huge sense or urgency to try to correct that last five minutes of the game."
PHOENIX 103 FINAL
Dec 13 1:04 AM
PHOENIX 67 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 13 12:19 AM
PHOENIX 49 HALFTIME
Dec 12 11:34 PM
PHOENIX 24 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 12 11:05 PM
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