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Hill, Suns snap two-game skid with win over Sonics

Feb 9, 2008 - 7:05 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak did not know how many timeouts the Seattle SuperSonics had. The answer was zero.

Grant Hill rattled home a jumper in the final seconds and the Phoenix Suns benefited from a boneheaded play by Szczerbiak as they escaped with a 103-99 victory over the pesky SuperSonics on Friday.

Amare Stoudemire scored 33 points for the Suns, who overcame a poor shooting night and snapped a two-game skid by hitting all 32 of their free throws - one shy of the franchise record.

Stoudemire tied a career high by hitting all 15 of his foul shots.

"It was a hard fought game, and we had to find a different way to win," Stoudemire said. "I definitely know when I miss, so you should know when you don't miss. We just focused from the stripe and knocked those shots down."

No free throw was more important than the one hit by Steve Nash after Szczerbiak made the fatal mistake of calling a timeout when his team did not have any left.

His error ultimately led to a technical foul which helped the Suns ice the game.

"My calling the time out was the play that turned the game around," Szczerbiak said. "I had no idea we didn't have a time out left and I should have known. Someone could have spoken a little bit better to let everyone know but to play our hearts out and for it to come down to a play like that is tough."

Chris Wilcox, who scored 22 points, put Seattle up 99-98 with a shot in the lane with 1:04 left.

On the ensuing possesion, the Suns got an offensive rebound and Nash hit Hill in the corner for the go-head jumper that bounced three times before falling in for a 100-99 lead. Hill finished with 16 points.

Seattle then went to Wilcox, who missed and, after two failed putbacks, the ball went out of bounds off the Suns with 15 seconds left. However, Szczerbiak could not inbound the ball and called timeout.

A technical foul was issued, and Nash converted the free throw and the Suns were awarded the ball. The Sonics, who used a 9-0 run to get back into the game late, were forced to foul and Nash sealed the win.

Nash finished with just 13 points and eight assists on 4-of-13 shooting as the Suns shot a miserable 39 percent (34-of-86) from the floor.

However, they made up for it by nearly equalling the franchise record for consecutive free throws. That mark was set on December 23, 1980, when Phoenix hit 33 straight against Detroit.

"Usually, we're pretty good free-throw shooters, but it was the defense tonight," said Boris Diaw, whose block of Seattle rookie Kevin Durant swung momentum midway through the fourth. "We had to increase it defensively because we weren't making shots."

Durant scored just nine points on 2-of-12 shooting, but had a key three-point play during the Sonics' fourth-quarter run that cut the deficit to 98-95 with 2:08 remaining.

"We're really disappointed and upset," SuperSonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We wasted a great defensive effort and made to many mistakes. We probably put them on the line too many times, and they got too many offensive boards."

Phoenix, which shot just 3-of-15 from the arc, was without its newest addition, Shaquille O'Neal, who is in Miami taking care of personal business.

The Suns acquired the four-time NBA champion this week for All-Star forward Shawn Marion and backup guard Marcus Banks. O'Neal has been suffering from an inflamed left hip, and it is not clear when he will see action in a Suns' uniform.

"I think with all the distractions going on we were not really sharp," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said of the recent trade and Shaq's impending arrival. "These are games we have to have. I am glad we found a way to win."

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