Hill plays in 82nd game, leads Suns past WarriorsApr 16, 2009 - 6:32 AM PHOENIX (AP) -- Injuries decimated what might have been a magnificent career for Grant Hill. Through it all, he persevered.
So Wednesday night was an evening of triumph for the 36-year-old forward. He matched his season high with 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Phoenix Suns past the Golden State Warriors, 117-113.
More impressively, for the first time in his 15 NBA seasons, Hill played in all 82 games.
"Before the game the guys brought in a bunch of cupcakes and organized them in the shape of an 82. Immediately I was very tired thinking about 82 games," he said. "But it's something that I'm proud of, to be out there and to play, and I think I got better throughout the season. ... I'll just try to do it again and play 82 next year."
Teammate Steve Nash called Hill "very inspirational."
"For a guy to go through so many things throughout his career, especially with the injuries, and to be 37 years old (actually 36), playing all 82 games and playing all 82 games at a very high level," Nash said, "he did so many things for our team."
Leandro Barbosa added 18 points for the Suns, who failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Shaquille O'Neal scored 15 for Phoenix.
Anthony Morrow wrapped up his strong rookie season with 33 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors, who had eight players in uniform and used only seven. C.J. Watson had 20 points and a career-high 12 assists. Kelenna Azubuike added 18 points for Golden State.
Warriors coach Don Nelson didn't come out to talk to reporters. Instead, he sent assistant coach Keith Smart.
"Overall it was good," Smart said, "our young players came together and played. They didn't worry about how the series was or how we have played against the Suns and for the most part, they came out and competed."
Hill was only 7-for-25 from the field, but made 13-of-16 free throws.
After he made one of two from the line to make it 113-108 with 44.3 seconds to go, he stole the ball in Golden State's frontcourt, then scored on a layup after a pass from Nash to put Phoenix ahead 115-108 with 25.4 seconds to play.
"They kept going on the attack offensively, so they kept us on our heels a little bit," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of the Warriors. "They played crazy lineups and (Anthony) Randolph was a point guard some, center some and small forward some -- and the same thing with all the other guys.
"For us to end the season on a positive note on a win I thought was good."
The Suns finished 10 games above .500 (46-36), but two games behind Utah for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West.
The Warriors led by 14 in the first quarter and were up 36-24 entering the second. Morrow made four of his first five shots for 10 first-quarter points. He had 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half.
Watson's two free throws 48 seconds into the second quarter gave Golden State its biggest lead at 40-24.
The Suns got back into it with a 15-2 run. Jason Richardson scored eight in the surge, two 3-pointers and a fast-break stuff on a lob from Nash that cut the lead to 49-48 with 4:21 left in the half.
O'Neal's fast-break layup tied it at 54-54 1:23 before the break and it was 56-56 at the half.
There were eight lead changes in the third quarter, with Golden State up 90-86 entering the fourth.
The Suns took control for good with a 13-2 run, capped by Barbosa's fast-break layup that put Phoenix ahead 108-99 with 4:18 remaining.
GOLDEN STATE 113
PHOENIX 117 FINAL
Apr 16 1:05 AM
GOLDEN STATE 90
PHOENIX 86 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 16 12:24 AM
GOLDEN STATE 56
PHOENIX 56 HALFTIME
Apr 15 11:42 PM
GOLDEN STATE 36
PHOENIX 24 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 15 11:11 PM
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