Nash hands out 21 assists as Suns top PistonsFeb 9, 2009 - 5:21 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Steve Nash dished out a season-high 21 assists and was one of six Phoenix Suns to reach double figures in points en route to a 107-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
Nash, who scored 15 points, finished one assist shy of his career high. The two-time MVP had 22 helpers in a triple-overtime loss to the New York Knicks on January 2, 2006.
"I have to give credit to my teammates," Nash said. "They made the plays and got open for me. They tried to find the lanes to get in the paint."
That was one of the keys to the victory for the Suns, who outscored Detroit by a 66-26 margin in the paint.
"If we can do that every night, we'll be in a pretty good position," Nash said.
Jason Richardson poured in 21 points and All-Star Shaquille O'Neal collected 20 and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have won three of their last four contests.
All-Star Amare Stoudemire chipped in 18 points, reserve Leandro Barbosa added 17 and Grant Hill netted 10 for Phoenix, which shot 49 percent (41-of-83) from the field.
"We got out and ran a little more tonight, and it was a lot more fun," Nash said. "We got out and ran, but we also got the ball inside to Shaq. We had good balance."
"I think the gameplan has changed the past couple of nights, and we are starting to run again to start the offense," Stoudemire added. "Guys are starting to roll to the basket more and it feels good."
That was the plan, according to Phoenix coach Terry Porter.
"We talked a lot about having a good pace tonight," said Porter, who was an assistant coach with Detroit last season. "Steve and L.B. (Barbosa) did a great job of giving us good pace and having a good rhythm."
Richard Hamilton scored 27 points off the bench, Allen Iverson added 25 and Rasheed Wallace finished with 16 and 10 boards for the Pistons, who failed to post their third straight win.
Detroit could not contain Nash, who continually drove the lane to draw defenders before feeding the Suns' All-Star big men for easy buckets.
"He got his team involved and they were hitting shots," Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey said. "What killed us was points in the paint and them running out and getting easy baskets."
Phoenix began to pull away late in the second quarter, when Nash ignited a 13-3 run to end the half by hitting O'Neal under the basket for a dunk with 3:13 left. The Suns took a 62-50 edge into the break and never trailed over the final 24 minutes.
"We had all the opportunities in the world to win the basketball game," Iverson said. "We did a lot of good things. We just didn't do enough to win."
Iverson is baffled that Nash didn't get selected to play in next Sunday's NBA All-Star game.
"Sometimes people are playing better statistically than at that time when they choose the team," Iverson said. "With my stats being as low, the lowest in my career, I'm pretty sure if I wasn't voted in by the fans, I probably wouldn't be an All-Star.
"But that doesn't mean I'm not an All-Star, it doesn't mean that Steve is not an All-Star. He's definitely an All-Star and he's still playing like an MVP. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Nash did not set up a basket in the final three minutes, failing to match the NBA's highest mark this season set by Knicks guard Chris Duhon.
A 12-year veteran, Nash did make four free throws in final 22 seconds to seal the win for the Suns.
DETROIT 97 FINAL
Feb 8 10:39 PM
DETROIT 74 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 8 9:58 PM
DETROIT 50 HALFTIME
Feb 8 9:12 PM
DETROIT 29 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 8 8:37 PM
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