PHOENIX (AP) -- Suddenly, the Phoenix Suns are becoming a
The Suns, the worst defensive team in the NBA last season, held
an opponent under 100 points for the third consecutive game Tuesday
night, beating the woeful Toronto Raptors 90-82.
Shawn Marion scored 28 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for his
ninth double-double in 10 games this season and Steve Nash added 23
points and nine assists for the Suns, who were the best offensive
team in the league in 2004-05 and are again this season.
In winning consecutive home games for the first time this
season, the Suns improved to 5-5. Toronto, which lost its first
nine games before beating Miami, fell to 1-10.
"I guess we are just a defensive team now," Phoenix coach Mike
D'Antoni said. "We did not shoot the ball well ... but look at the
positive, we're playing well defensively."
"Defense wins championships," House said. "If that's going to
be our M.O., then we'll be a great offensive team and a great
Chris Bosh led Toronto with 23 points, but did not score in the
final period and missed his eighth consecutive double-double by
grabbing only eight rebounds. Mike James had 13 points for Toronto
and Matt Bonner scored 12.
Phoenix didn't break open the game until late in the fourth
quarter. Trailing 77-76, the Suns ran off 12 straight points, six
each by Marion and Nash, for an 88-77 lead.
Overall, there were 93 missed shots in the game and the teams
combined to shoot 9-for-46 from 3-point range.
Both teams shot poorly in the first half and combined for 21
turnovers. The Suns, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the
league, were 0-for-12 from that range but still led 42-38 at the
Marion, Bosh and Jalen Rose played the best in the first half.
With more than three minutes still remaining in the half, Marion
already had a double-double, finishing the second period with 16
points and 10 rebounds. Nash had 10 points, but seven turnovers.
Bosh, maneuvering well down low, had 12 points and five
rebounds, while Rose scored 10 points.
Toronto coach Sam Mitchell found numerous faults with his team's
"We didn't attack them," he said. "They let you shoot jump
shots and we settled for them. We didn't drive the ball to the
basket. We're young and inexperienced and we just don't know how to
win basketball games right now."
Marion acknowledged that the Suns didn't play well offensively,
but said, "As long as it's a win, that's what matters."
"Sometimes you win pretty, sometimes you win ugly," he added.
"This was not pretty, but we were able to close the game out
because we played good defense."
Although Bosh was the Raptors' offensive star, he took the blame
for the loss.
"I'd say it's my fault," he said. "I just didn't make smart
decisions. ... I had a turnover and three missed shots down the
stretch. I just have to make sure I calm my nerves."
The Raptors scored the game's first eight points and built a
10-point lead in the first quarter, but the Suns rallied to tie it
at 18 by the end of the period. Marion's 10 points helped the Suns
take a 38-27 lead in the second quarter, but two baskets each by
Rose and Bosh helped whittle the deficit to four points by
Toronto battled back in the third quarter and regained the lead
at the end of the period, 63-61, with the aid of 11 points by Bosh
and seven by James. The Suns finally got a 3-pointer, from Nash,
after missing their first 15 from beyond the arc, but were 1-for-18
by the end of the period.
The Suns used their fourth different starting lineup this
season, with Jim Jackson replacing the injured Leandro Barbosa;
last season, they used only seven different starting lineups en
route to a league-leading 62 victories. ... Phoenix's home court,
which has been renamed US Airways Center -- after being American
West Arena since 1992 -- will be officially converted in January,
when remodeling plans are completed. ... Jackson started three
games last season -- all victories -- and averaged 15.3 points, 5.7
rebounds and 4.7 assists; Tuesday night, he scored four points. ...
Barbosa will miss another 2-3 weeks with a sprained ligament in his
left knee. ... The Suns said that Dick Van Arsdale, 62, the team's
senior executive vice president, who suffered a stroke last week,
was recovering very well.