Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/10

Game 1: Friday, December 10th
Game 2: Wednesday, March 23rd

Suns 120

(51-16, 28-7 away)

Bobcats 105

(13-53, 11-22 home)

7:00 PM ET, March 23, 2005

Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 29 41 21 29120
CHA 14 33 29 29105

Top Performers

PHX: S. Marion 26 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk

Cha: B. Knight 12 Pts, 4 Reb, 15 Ast, 2 Stl

Phoenix stays ahead of Spurs for West's best mark

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Charlotte Bobcats were just a blip on the radar for the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns jumped all over the Bobcats, beating them 120-105 on Wednesday night for a franchise record 28th road victory.

Now, it's on to Miami, for a Friday night showdown with the Heat with the NBA's best record at stake.

"This is a game we've been waiting for," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's big for us, because if we win it, we get the tiebreaker."

The Suns beat Miami 122-107 in Phoenix on Jan. 11.

Shawn Marion had 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Suns, who are now 28-7 on the road. That bests the mark of 27-14 set in 1993 and 1995. The victory was also Phoenix's ninth straight on the road, which tied the club record.

To make it 10 in a row, the Suns will have to win in Miami. So even though they were playing the Bobcats, it was hard not to look ahead.

"It's going to be a big-time game," said Amare Stoudemire, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds. "Even though we take it one game at a time, that game has definitely been lingering in the back of our minds."

Joe Johnson scored 26 points for the Suns. Jim Jackson scored 15 and Steve Nash finished with 11 points, 10 assists and no turnovers.

It was clear from the opening tip that the Suns are a far better team than the expansion Bobcats, who trailed by double digits less eight minutes into the game.

Stoudemire opened the game with a 19-footer, then Nash stole the ball from Bernard Robinson, who was making his first start of the season, and used a crowd-pleasing behind-the-back pass to feed it into Marion for a dunk.

Before the Bobcats knew it, Stoudemire had added a dunk and Quentin Richardson hit a 3-pointer for a 9-2 lead that had them gasping for air during a frustrating timeout.

The Suns stretched their lead to 29 in the second quarter, and took a 70-47 lead into the break.

"They are really good," Charlotte guard Brevin Knight said. "They understand their style. You make shots the way they did tonight, you don't need to play much defense."

Mathematically, it wasn't the worst Charlotte loss of the season -- that was a 112-80 defeat to Philadelphia on March 11. But it had the makings to be just as bad until a strong second-half effort made it respectable.

The Bobcats cut it to 13 in the third quarter while many of the Suns' starters were on the bench. Then Jason Hart hit a 3 to cut it to 91-81 with just over 10 minutes to go.

Then Phoenix sent its starters back in, and promptly took control when Richardson fed an alley-oop dunk into Marion.

"We put ourselves in a hole and played horrible," said Gerald Wallace, who returned from a seven-game absence with bruised ribs to score 17 points in 30 minutes.

"But we worked hard to end the game on a positive note."

After an Emeka Okafor dunk for Charlotte, Nash hit a long jumper and Jackson hit consecutive 3-pointers to push the Suns' lead back up to 16.

Hart led Charlotte with 21 points in a reserve role. Gerald Wallace returned from a seven-game absence with bruised ribs to score 17 points in 30 minutes.

Jason Kapono added 15 points, Okafor had 13 points and Brevin Knight had 12 points and 15 assists. ^NOTES:@ Charlotte's Keith Bogans did not play because of back spasms. ... The Suns were 12-of-29 from 3-point range. ... Only Paul Shirley and Jake Voskuhl didn't get in the game for Phoenix. ... Pop diva Brandy was sitting courtside and cheering on Richardson, her fiance.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 120 105
FGM-FGA 43-90 (.478) 38-92 (.413)
3PM-3PA 12-29 (.414) 7-17 (.412)
FTM-FTA 22-26 (.846) 22-28 (.786)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-55 14-44
Assists 25 26
Turnovers 13 11
Steals 9 6
Blocks 6 5
Fast Break Points 16 23
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 20 (1/0)
Largest Lead 29 0

Top Performers

Shawn Marion Marion
Points: 26
Reb: 10
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 3
Brevin Knight Knight
Points: 12
Reb: 4
Ast: 15
Stl: 2
Blk: 0