Shawn Marion had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Joe Johnson
scored 26 points to help the Suns, playing their fourth road game
in five nights, beat Magic 118-116 on Saturday night. The Suns were
4-1 on the trip to improve to 29-8 on the road.
Steve Nash added 23 points and 12 assists for the Suns, coming
off a 125-115 loss in Miami on Friday night. Phoenix (52-17) is a
half-game behind Miami (53-17 after a loss in Charlotte on Saturday
night) in the race for the NBA's best record.
"We were a little flat tonight, but we had some good spurts and
found a way to win, which is what good teams do," Phoenix coach
Mike D'Antoni said. "I don't think we were tired because you can't
be tired and play as hard as we did at the end. You're going to
have games like this and we'll just take the win."
Grant Hill led Orlando with 26 points, DeShawn Stevenson added
22, and Steve Francis, playing for the first time following a
three-game suspension, had 17 points and nine assists. The Magic
have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
"You've got to take something from every situation -- win or
lose -- and we didn't give up, which is something we can definitely
build on," Magic coach Chris Jent said.<
Nash hit a jumper with 42 seconds left to give Phoenix a 118-112
lead, but Francis made two free throws to cut the margin to four
and Hill made a layup off a steal to make it 118-116 with 30
seconds to go.
Nash threw the ball away on the Suns' next possession to give
Orlando a chance to tie or win, but Jameer Nelson missed a
3-pointer at the buzzer.
"We looked like a team that was about to quit in the first
half, but we challenged ourselves at halftime and it shows the
character of this team how we played the second half," Nash said.
Phoenix outscored Orlando 22-11 in the last 5 minutes of the
third quarter to take a 93-85 lead. The Suns maintained the
eight-point advantage for most of the fourth period until Orlando
finally got in striking range when Francis hit a 3-pointer to cut
it to 112-107 with 3:41 left.
"We were in it until the last shot and hopefully we can
continue this kind of effort," Francis said. "If we played hard
the last 14 games, someone is going to give us a break."
Francis was suspended for kicking a photographer during a
game in Seattle. ... Orlando's Stacey Augmon scored 13 points, his
first double-figure game since Jan. 10 against Boston. ... Marion
has double-doubles in nine straight games.