Nash returns to lineup, sparks Suns to winJan 13, 2008 - 5:24 AM By Jonathan Dalton PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Another season, another home win for the Phoenix Suns over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Steve Nash returned to the lineup and scored 35 points and Amare Stoudemire added 31 to lead the Suns in Saturday's 122-114 victory over the Bucks, their 20th straight home win in the series.
"Actually, I didn't feel that good, but someone was watching over me and a bunch of shots went in," said Nash, who was 13-of-17 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from the arc.
Andrew Bogut scored 29 points on 14-of-16 shooting to lead Milwaukee, which has not won in Phoenix since February 21, 1987 when the Suns played at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, five miles northwest of U.S. Airways Arena.
The Suns trailed by seven at the half but outscored the Bucks, 35-18, in the third quarter to take command en route to their third win in four games.
"I think our defense let down a little bit," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We had six turnovers in the third quarter, and that fueled the fire. The high-powered unit that this team is, they're hard enough to guard in the half court and, when you let them get out and run, it's really, really hard."
Nash, who missed Phoenix's 108-86 loss to Utah on Friday because of the flu, gave the Suns their first lead since the middle of the second quarter, sinking a 3-pointer from the top left wing to make it 77-76 with 6:44 left in the third period.
Milwaukee briefly regained the lead on Michael Redd's 3-pointer from the top of the arc, his third of the game.
But Nash hit another 3-pointer and fed Stoudemire for an alley-oop lay-in, and Shawn Marion added a thunderous dunk as Phoenix took an 83-81 lead with 4:43 left.
"I think we got in a good groove in the second half of defense, and we were able to really get to them," Marion said. "That enabled us to get the lead."
Bogut tied the game on a dunk with 4:20 left, but Raja Bell hit two 3-pointers to bookend a 13-3 run to close the quarter and give the Suns a 96-86 lead.
"Our plan early on was to try and make him (Nash) beat us," Bogut said. "He's trying to keep his teammates involved, keep them happy and, in clutch time, he's knocking down the big shots."
Bogut nearly single-handedly kept Milwaukee close, scoring eight of the Bucks' 18 third-quarter points, including four of their last five.
"He's a big guy," Stoudemire said of Bogut. "He was able to get a couple of easy baskets there. I played solid defense on him for the most part. He just made some tough shots and he's pretty good with that left hand."
Phoenix took its biggest lead of the first half, 43-39, on Marcus Banks' driving layup with 7:18 left in the second quarter.
But Redd hit a 3-pointer as the Bucks outscored the Suns, 21-7, over the next 4:50 to take a 60-50 lead with 2:38 left in the half before settling for a 68-61 halftime lead.
The Bucks shot 56 percent (48-of-86), including 11-of-20 from the arc, but came up just a tick shy of Phoenix's 57 percent (45-of-79) from the floor and 21-of-25 from the free-throw line.
"This was a dangerous team for us," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They score in all kind of ways. After we had that first half the way it was, I thought the second half we picked it up."
PHOENIX 122 FINAL
Jan 12 11:20 PM
PHOENIX 96 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 12 10:48 PM
PHOENIX 61 HALFTIME
Jan 12 10:02 PM
PHOENIX 29 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 12 9:32 PM
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