for this game

Nash, Suns scorch Thunder with late charge

Nov 26, 2008 - 6:05 AM OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Steve Nash gashed the Oklahoma City Thunders' dreams of a major upset.

The Phoenix Suns' point guard scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and dished to Matt Barnes for a 3-point basket with 25.7 seconds left that gave the Phoenix Suns a 99-98 victory over Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

"Steve is a proven guy that knows how to get it done when the game is on the line," Suns coach Terry Porter said after his team survived without Shaquille O'Neal. "That's what big time players do, they make plays when they are needed, and I was glad to see him do it. I am proud of the way our guys responded and Steve led the charge."

The Thunder led 95-89 but Phoenix cut the gap to one when Nash hit a basket and a 3-point shot.

Chris Wilcox missed a shot from the lane, but Russell Westbrook grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He hit 1-of-2 to make it 96-94 with less than 58 seconds left.

Nash then drilled a jumper from the side to tie the game.

After Wilcox gave the Thunder a 98-96 lead, Nash found Barnes, who drilled a 3-pointer to put Phoenix up one with 21 seconds left. It was Nash's 15th assist to go with eight rebounds.

"I didn't feel great tonight physically, and I tried to hang in there, it was tough," Nash said. "I felt I had embarrassed my teammates and let them down in the first half, so I tried to make up for it in the second half."

The Thunder missed two chances to tie the game and the ball went out of bounds. Phoenix inbounded and the Thunder failed to foul as the time ran down and out. The Suns outscored Oklahoma City, 29-17, in the final quarter.

"Somehow we made enough plays to get ourselves back it," Nash said. "There were stages where we felt like we weren't going to win. But we stayed after them and got ourselves into a situation to win, and we made the play we had to make."

Kevin Durant led the way for the Thunder with 29 points. Wilcox came off the bench to score 18 points and Westbrook added 15.

"We got the foul we needed, but we weren't in the bonus," Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks said. "After the inbound they made three great, timely passes to keep the ball away from us. I told the guys to just wrap up someone but we kept making plays for the ball or the guy with the ball. I think it might be a bit of inexperience on our part, but next time we will know what do to."

The finish ruined Brooks' chance for a successful home debut, settling for the team's 12th straight loss.

The interim coach took over for P.J. Carlesimo last week. The Thunder were whipped by the New Orleans Hornets in Brooks' first game as coach but appeared ready to pull a shocker against Phoenix.

The Suns led by one point after the first quarter. Oklahoma City then came to life and played perhaps its best quarter of the season, outscoring the Suns, 29-15, to take a 54-41 lead at intermission.

The Thunder played even with the Suns in the third quarter and had an 81-70 advantage heading into the final 12 minutes when disaster struck.

Durant was 9-of-19 from the field and 8-of-8 from the line.

"We should have won this game, but we didn't," Durant said. "Everything is going to be a learning experience. We're having a lot of fun, we're moving the ball and we're getting better, I feel a winning streak coming on."

Amare Stoudemire added 22 points for Phoenix, which was without O'Neal who is taking days off during some back-to-back games to preserve himself for the long run.

"I thought Robin Lopez did a solid job," Porter said. "Amare got in early foul trouble, Boris Diaw did some nice things for us inside, but that's what we need when we are a man down is for someone to rise to the occasion."