102 - 112 Final
  for this game

Suns hold off pesky Bobcats

Feb 25, 2009 - 6:13 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Everybody won on Tuesday, except the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Phoenix Suns posted a 112-102 victory over Charlotte in a game that saw former Suns Raja Bell and Boris Diaw star in a losing effort.

Bell and Diaw were sent to Charlotte on December 10 for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a draft pick. Diaw scored 27 points and Bell added 23 as Charlotte scrapped and battled valiantly only to come up short.

"I came back during All-Star Weekend and just from the fans I saw on the streets, it was like they said we miss you," Diaw said.

"It was tough. We got behind in the second quarter and the whole game we tried to come back, and that is very tough because they made a lot of shots on transition. Then, every time we came back, they took the lead again."

The Suns suffered a loss of their own as Steve Nash injured his right ankle while landing awkwardly on a 3-point shot in the third quarter that built Phoenix's lead to 86-71. The point guard was helped off the court, sat on the bench and went to the locker room to have his right ankle re-taped.

"It is a little swollen and sore but, if I had to guess, it is not going to be a long-term thing - just be careful for the next 48 hours," Nash said. "I thought I would give it a shot but when I got out there I had no strength. I could have hurt us at both ends of the floor. I felt I wasn't going to help us anymore and thought I should get out there before I do more damage."

He returned for a short spell, hitting a 3-point shot to give the Suns a 99-91 lead before returning to the bench.

"That was luck," Nash said. "They left me on a post-up and I kind of willed it in because I didn't get much lift. The other guys made good plays to close it out."

The Suns led 100-95 when Richardson was fouled by Gerald Wallace on a 3-point shot. The foul was Wallace's sixth and Richardson hit all three free throws. Matt Barnes followed with a runner in the lane and the lead was 105-95 with four minutes left.

"I thought our effort was great," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "There were some strange calls. ... Every time we got back in the game something bad happened, and that is kind of disappointing but I loved our effort."

Nash led Phoenix with 22 points. Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Richardson each scored 20 points.

"I'm not really impressed with beating teams we're suppose to beat," O'Neal said. "We have got to stay consistent. The true test will be against the good team. Thursday (against the Los Angeles Lakers) will be a good test for us."

Bell and Diaw combined for 28 points in the first half as Charlotte managed to hang with Phoenix, trailing 59-55 at the break.

The pair of ex-Suns were 11-of-15 from the field in the opening 24 minutes.

Phoenix led 53-40 after a pair of free throws by O'Neal. The Bobcats then went on 15-6 run to close the gap at halftime.

Diaw hit a shot to cut the gap to seven and Bell beat the buzzer from 24 feet to make it a four-point game heading into the second half.

"It was really nice," Bell said of the warm ovation. "I didn't know what to expect. I have nothing but great memories here and I was thankful the fans didn't see me as the villain in the whole thing.

"It was just business and it is just the way things go. I wish these guys the best and I'll always cheer for them as long as they aren't playing against me."

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