Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 11/25

Game 1: Friday, November 25th
Game 2: Monday, March 27th

Nets 81

(5-7, 1-5 away)

Suns 92

(7-5, 4-4 home)

8:30 PM ET, November 25, 2005

US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 16 14 34 1781
PHX 25 19 26 2292

Top Performers

NJ: J. Kidd 25 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

PHX: S. Nash 27 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

Nash outduels Kidd as Suns set on Nets

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns are finding out they can rely on more than Steve Nash and Shawn Marion.

In each of the first 11 games of the season, Nash led the team in assists and Marion was the top rebounder. Neither led in his specialty Friday night, yet the Suns beat New Jersey 92-81, handing the Nets their 12th straight loss at America West Arena.

Nash scored 27 points and Kurt Thomas had a season-high 19 rebounds, while Boris Diaw contributed a season-best nine assists.

It was the third consecutive victory for the Suns and the third straight game they held an opponent under 90 points -- the first time they have done that since the 2002-03 season. New Jersey's point total was the lowest allowed by the Suns this season and the fifth straight game Phoenix held an opponent under 100 points.

"We're not out to score 120 points every night," Nash said.

Last season, the Suns led the NBA in scoring, averaging 110.4 points per game, and were the worst defensive team, allowing 103.3 points per game. This season, their scoring is down but their defense is vastly improved.

"Our defense was awesome," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Nash, who added six assists, also used the word "awesome" in describing Thomas' rebounding performance.

"Kurt was great," he added. "He gives us a presence and toughness under the boards."

Thomas, who has been struggling with his shot, said, "I have been focusing on my rebounding. It's been a tough year. My teammates have been supporting me all the way."

The Suns' fourth win in five games boosted them two games over .500 (7-5) for the first time this season. It also was their third consecutive win at home after a 1-4 start.

The Nets, in the midst of a five-game road trip, dropped their third in a row and fell to 5-7.

Raja Bell added 13 points for Phoenix, Marion had 12 and James Jones and Diaw each scored 10.

Jason Kidd led the Nets with 25 points, Vince Carter scored 23 and Richard Jefferson had 16.

"I think our defensive intensity was the difference," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "During the second quarter, it wasn't very good. We also hurt ourselves on the offensive end."

Kidd was proud of his team, which cut a 20-point deficit to four early in the fourth quarter.

"But we couldn't get any closer," he said. "Every time we made a run, they answered."

The Suns, exhibiting the tough, resilient defense they have displayed recently, held the Nets to five field goals in 21 attempts in the second period in building a 20-point and held a 44-30 advantage at halftime.

During one span bridging the first and second quarters, the Nets went 6:35 without a basket and 5:44 without a point, and Phoenix outscored them 22-6.

Only Carter, Jefferson and Kidd had any success against Phoenix's tight man-to-man defense, combining for all but two of the Nets' points in the first half.

Meanwhile, Nash had 11 points at the break, but instead of being the orchestrator of the Suns' offense, as he usually is, it was the 6-foot-8 Diaw. Playing the center position, the versatile Diaw had six assists, along with four rebounds. His replacement, Thomas, contributed nine rebounds.

For the half, the disorganized Nets shot 29 percent (12-for-41). Phoenix was 19-for-44 (43 percent), including five 3-pointers.

The Nets found their shooting touch in the third period, hitting 13 of 19 shots to get within 70-64, the closest they had been since late in the first quarter. Their 34 points in the period were four more than they scored in the entire first half.

Game notes

The last time the Nets won at America West Arena was March 13, 1993 -- their first trip to AWA, beating the Suns 124-93. ... Kidd is the leader among active players in triple doubles with 68. ... This was the start of a five-game homestand for the Suns, who by the end of the stretch will have played 12 home games and only four on the road. ... Both Carter (sprained back) and Jason Collins (inflamed nerve in right leg) sat out the Nets' game Wednesday against Sacramento, but returned to the starting lineup Friday. ... Diaw had only one double-double in two seasons with Atlanta, but already has two in 12 games with Phoenix. ... Arizona basketball coach Lute Olsen was a courtside spectator.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 81 92
FGM-FGA 30-76 (.395) 35-83 (.422)
3PM-3PA 9-18 (.500) 6-25 (.240)
FTM-FTA 12-21 (.571) 16-22 (.727)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-42 10-46
Assists 11 20
Turnovers 16 8
Steals 6 8
Blocks 4 4
Fast Break Points 3 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 17 (1/0)
Largest Lead 3 20

Top Performers

New Jersey
Jason Kidd Kidd
Points: 25
Reb: 13
Ast: 3
Stl: 3
Blk: 0
Steve Nash Nash
Points: 27
Reb: 3
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 0