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Nash, Bell lead Suns' offense past Knicks

Dec 30, 2006 - 9:06 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Steve Nash and Raja Bell helped the Phoenix Suns cool off the streaking New York Knicks.

Nash and Bell each scored 20 points to lead the Suns to a 108-86 triumph over the Knicks.

Phoenix took a 32-11 lead in the opening quarter thanks to a 19-4 run that was capped by Kurt Thomas' jumper with 1:12 left.

"I think (the fast start) was important," Nash said. "I think after last night's game, we could have had an emotional letdown. We came out with a lot of energy defensively, we made some shots and gave us a lead to manage."

Channing Frye cut the Knicks' deficit to 78-67 late in the third quarter, but Bell's 3-pointer with 6:54 remaining in the fourth pushed the advantage to 94-74, putting the game out of reach.

"A game that we should have won, we did what we were supposed to do," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We are playing well, our defense is getting better and we are moving right along. It's too bad about last night's (loss at Dallas). These guys snapped back and we got a road trip coming up, we will see what we can do."

Leandro Barbosa scored 16 points and Shawn Marion added 14 for Phoenix, which had six players in double-figures. The Suns shot 49 percent (43-of-87) from the field and outscored the Knicks, 15-4, on the fast break.

Jamal Crawford lead the way with 21 points for the Knicks, who had won five of their six since their infamous brawl in Denver on December 16.

"It was very important for us to come out and establish ourselves early against this team," Marion said. "They came in here on a little hot streak, four out of five games they won, but at the same time, we just had to make sure we go out there and do what we need to do to make ourselves better."

Eddie Curry scored 19 points and Stephon Marbury added 14 for New York, which outrebounded Phoenix, 52-38.

"They are just better than we are right now," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We have got a ways to go before we get to their level. We still got some time in the season to catch up. At this point in time, they are just a better basketball team then we are. They did a good job tonight."

Phoenix improved to 12-0 this season when keeping its opponent under 100 points.

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