Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/18

Game 1: Saturday, December 18th
Wizards96Final
Suns110
Game 2: Saturday, January 15th
Suns103Final
Wizards108

Suns 103

(31-7, 15-5 away)

Wizards 108

(22-13, 14-5 home)

7:00 PM ET, January 15, 2005

Verizon Center, Washington, DC

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 21 32 25 25103
WSH 21 31 20 36108

Top Performers

Phoenix: Q. Richardson 25 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Washington: J. Dixon 26 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl

Hot Wizards take advantage of Nash-less Suns

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Juan Dixon jumped, clenched his fists and let out a yell amid the roar of the fans as he ran downcourt. It was a fitting way to celebrate a spectacular layup during Washington's 16-0 fourth-quarter run against the NBA's top team.

Dixon scored 13 of his 26 points -- including a driving change-hands-in-midair layup in traffic -- in the final period, helping the Wizards to their seventh straight win, a 108-103 victory that sent the Phoenix Suns to their first three-game losing streak of the season.

"Emotion, man. Getting an opportunity," said the former University of Maryland star, explaining his series of emotional releases that including a pose to admire a 3-pointer.

"There's times when you're on the bench the whole game, you urge your teammates on, but you're not really a part of it because you're not out there contributing," he said. "Me, getting an opportunity to play and be a part of it, it's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it right now."

The Wizards, off to their best start since 1978-79, made up a 10-point second-half deficit and won for the eighth time this season when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter. They usually make it thrilling -- they won on a buzzer-beater by Larry Hughes at Milwaukee the night before -- but they're winning.

"I know they're probably aging watching us play," said point guard Gilbert Arenas, referring to the team's fans. "But it's exciting basketball."

Arenas scored 26 points, Hughes had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Antawn Jamison added 17 points and seven rebounds. One potential setback: Hughes jammed his right thumb in the fourth quarter and will be reevaluated Sunday.

But it was reserve guard Dixon who was the late sparkplug for the second straight night. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter Friday night against the Bucks and was 10-for-13 from the field against the Suns and became the first Wizards player other than Arenas, Jamison or Hughes to lead or tie for the team lead in scoring this season.

"I'm just going to play my role," Dixon said. "Those three guys have been carrying us the whole year, and it's up to us to come off the bench and be productive."

Steve Nash, the NBA's assists leader, sat out after bruising his thigh in Phoenix's loss to Indiana the previous night. His replacement, Leandro Barbosa, opened 1-for-8 in his first start of the season. Barbosa finished with 15 points and no assists, and the Suns' 13 team assists were a season-low for the third straight game.

"We don't have Steve Nash. It's a completely different story out there when you've got your court leader," said Quentin Richardson, who scored 25 points. "But at the same time, we were still in position to win the game. We just had a bad stretch and that was tough."

Amare Stoudemire scored 26 points for the Suns, 15 after being fired up by a taunting foul on Hughes late in the final seconds of the first half. But most of those points came from the free-throw line -- Stoudemire was just 3-for-12 from the field in the second half.

Shawn Marion added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Suns, who are 0-3 on their East Coast road trip. Phoenix got no points from its bench.

Both teams' fatigue from playing the night before showed in 18 combined first-half turnovers, with neither team leading by more than nine. Hughes got a technical for celebrating in Stoudemire's face after a dunk in the final 10 seconds of the half, and Stoudemire responded with a dunk just before the buzzer.

When they returned for the second half, Stoudemire and Hughes were fired up, but their mini-rivalry was overshadowed down the stretch by Dixon's heroics.

"He knows his role," Arenas said. "He comes out shooting. If he's on, he's going to stay in. If he's not, he knows we're going to pull him out."

Game notes


The Wizards are 8-5 against the Western Conference and have scored 100 points in 10 straight games. ... Washington's Jarvis Hayes returned after missing one game with a concussion. ... Don't expect Wizards forward Kwame Brown back anytime soon. The 2001 No. 1 overall draft pick has played in just 14 games because of ankle injuries. "We're looking at a long-range healing process," coach Eddie Jordan said. "We're not looking at anything for a week or two, maybe a little bit longer." ... The sellout was the Wizards' third of the season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
PHX
WSH
Points 103 108
FGM-FGA 40-94 (.426) 38-89 (.427)
3PM-3PA 10-30 (.333) 8-26 (.308)
FTM-FTA 13-17 (.765) 24-29 (.828)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-50 15-48
Assists 13 18
Turnovers 18 14
Steals 6 9
Blocks 4 5
Fast Break Points 11 13
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (2/0) 19 (3/0)
Largest Lead 10 9

Top Performers

Phoenix
Washington
Quentin Richardson Richardson
Points: 25
Reb: 8
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Juan Dixon Dixon
Points: 26
Reb: 5
Ast: 1
Stl: 4
Blk: 0