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Marion's 33 and 15 fuels Suns' rally over Hornets

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns were already down a point guard
when they lost NBA assists leader Steve Nash late in the first
half. Shawn Marion knew the team needed leadership, and he
delivered.

Marion had a season-high 33 points and 15 rebounds, leading
Phoenix to a 95-86 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday
night.

"We made some big stops after Steve went down, and that is what
we have to do," Marion said. "We have to maintain our energy."

Marion led a fourth-quarter comeback with seven points, six
rebounds and the biggest of his three blocks, helping Phoenix win
its seventh straight. The streak is the Suns' longest since winning
seven in a row twice in 2000-01.

Quentin Richardson and Amare Stoudemire hit big shots for the
Suns in the final 2:14, further offsetting the loss of Nash, who
sustained a concussion with 3:46 left in the second quarter. The
injury was doubly threatening because backup point guard Leandro
Barbosa had a swollen ankle and wasn't available.

"That was a big win for us without Steve and Leandro," coach
Mike D'Antoni said. "You know, without the gas or the motor or
whatever you want to say. We were a little slow, but our guys
gutted it out."

Richardson had 21 points and Stoudemire added 14 points and 14
rebounds. Joe Johnson, who played point guard in the second half,
had 13 points and seven assists.

Lee Nailon had season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds for
New Orleans, which lost its first eight games but has been playing
well in the three games since. The Hornets beat Utah on Monday and
pushed Golden State to triple-overtime before losing 115-109 on
Tuesday.

It's been wearing on Hornets coach Bryan Scott.

"In the 10 or 11 games that we've had, eight of those games
we've been in them the last three or four minutes and then we fall
apart," he said. "We don't buckle down on the defensive end and
get stops, and that's what good teams do."

David West had 13 points in a reserve role, Darrell Armstrong
scored 12 and Jamaal Magloire had 11 before breaking the ring
finger on his right hand in the final minute.

Neither team held a double-digit lead in the tense contest.

New Orleans got within 82-80 on West's short jumper with 5:32
remaining, and West tied it with another 36 seconds later.

Marion missed a 3-pointer at the other end, Armstrong rebounded
and Nailon's 16-footer sent the Hornets to an 84-82 lead with 4:30
to go. It turned out to be their final basket.

Marion made an acrobatic putback of Casey Jacobsen's miss from
the corner, and David Wesley fouled him. Marion's three-point play
lifted Phoenix to an 85-84 lead, and Marion produced a five-point
lead with a follow dunk at the 2:58 mark.

Richardson's 3-pointer with 2:14 left gave the Suns a 90-84
lead, and Jake Voskuhl and Marion blocked shots by Nailon before
Stoudemire's 20-footer with 25 seconds to go allowed Phoenix to
ride out the game from the line.

"They made the plays and we didn't," Nailon said. "We tried
to stay around (Stoudemire), stay crowded and keep bodies on him."

Marion had 15 points in the first 9:39, making all three 3-point
attempts and leading the Suns to a 30-21 lead with 1:20 left in the
first quarter.

But the Hornets scored the last five points of the period and
went on a 12-0 run midway through the second, capped by Armstrong's
3-pointer with 5:10 remaining, to take a 45-37 lead.

Game notes
Hornets G Baron Davis missed his sixth straight game
because of an inflamed disk. New Orleans is 1-4 without him. ...
The Hornets are one of two teams (Utah is the other) to hold
Phoenix under 100 points this season and have done it twice. The
Suns won 95-84 in New Orleans on Nov. 17. ... Magloire came in with
back-to-back 20-point games after tying his career high with 27 on
Tuesday at Golden State. ... Wesley is 23-of-24 from the line this
season.