Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/6

Game 1: Sunday, November 6th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 17th
Game 3: Friday, February 10th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 11th

Kings 104

(22-28, 6-17 away)

Suns 112

(33-17, 19-8 home)

Coverage: KXTV

7:00 PM ET, February 10, 2006

US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

1 2 3 4 T
SAC 21 27 28 28104
PHX 33 30 30 19112

Top Performers

Sac: M. World Peace 28 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl

PHX: S. Nash 24 Pts, 1 Reb, 13 Ast, 1 Stl

Nash, Suns turn away late rally from Artest, Kings

PHOENIX (AP) -- Another night, another lead nearly blown for the Phoenix Suns.

Steve Nash scored 24 points, including a key basket and a pair of late free throws, helping the Suns withstand a furious fourth-quarter Sacramento comeback and beat the Kings 112-104 Friday night.

"It's pretty common for us to give up big leads," Nash said. "But I'm just looking at the big picture, which is we got another win."

Nash finished with 13 assists, Shawn Marion added 18 points and Raja Bell had 16 for the Suns, who won for the seventh time in nine games.

"We had a good game, and we played three really good quarters," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "For some reason we have had the habit to let the other team in a little bit at the end. We simply do not have a middle man to help us finish it off."

Ron Artest scored 10 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as the Kings nearly rallied from a 93-76 deficit at the start of the period. Kevin Martin's 10-foot jumper capped a 26-8 run that pulled Sacramento within 104-102 with 2:50, the closest the Kings had been since early in the first quarter.

"Guys just didn't give up," Artest said. "Everybody kept playing hard and we cut it down to two. We showed character. We didn't play the right way at the beginning but played the right way at the end."

Before the Kings could tie the game, Nash connected on a 12-foot jumper, Artest missed a jump shot and Shareef Abdur-Rahim missed two more shots before Nash made two free throws to make it 110-102 with 10 seconds to play.

"We had them where we wanted them," Martin said. "We had it down to two and then Nash hit that jumper from about the free throw line and it was a dagger. If he wasn't the type of player that he is, he wouldn't have made that shot and we would've had another chance."

Brad Miller scored 21 points and Martin added 18 for the Kings, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

"They'll let you back into the game, but they've been together," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "When you have Nash out there on the floor with Marion -- especially Nash -- those other guys were getting rattled and Nash came back in and hit a big shot. He controlled the offensive end."

The Suns led by 15 at the half but missed their first six second-half attempts. Sacramento took advantage, pulling within 67-55 on Miller's two free throws with 8:06 left in the third.

"Sometimes we have a team down 20 points and then start missing some shots," Marion said. "That's when we need to clamp down on defense. It's not easy, but at the same time we've got to do it."

Marion then took over, scoring off an alley-oop pass from Nash to end the Suns' drought, then hitting a pair of jumpers and completing a three-point play off a layup to put Phoenix back in front 76-57 with 5:14 to go.

"You can't shoot 60 percent all the time," D'Antoni said. "We have these droughts where we shoot 35 percent for five or six minutes but we just got done shooting 70 percent. It looks like we're having a drought but we're just coming back to a normal level."

The Kings, who trailed by as many as 20 in the first half, pulled within 83-70 on Mike Bibby's layup and a pair of free throws by Martin. Bibby then short-circuited the rally, getting called for a technical after fouling Bell. Marion made the technical, Bell sank both of his shots and added a 3-pointer moments later to give the Suns an 89-70 lead.

Phoenix took advantage of a slow start by Sacramento to open an early lead. Artest converted a three-point play to cut the Suns' lead to 17-13, but Nash sank a 3-pointer and the Suns hit seven straight free throws over the final 2:56 to open a 33-21 first-quarter lead.

The Suns took their largest lead at 59-39 on James Jones' layup with 1:49 left before halftime.

Game notes

Artest's 28 points were his most since being traded to Sacramento. ... All five Phoenix starters finished in double figures. ... Marion pulled down seven rebounds to become the second player in Suns history to grab at least 5,000 rebounds. Marion has 5,002, second only to Alvan Adams' 6,937. ... Sacramento had won the first two meetings between the teams. ... The Kings have yet to win four straight this season, losing in all four attempts to extend a three-game winning streak. ... D'Antoni earned his 116th win for the Suns, tying him with current Bulls coach Scott Skiles for fifth on the franchise coaching list.<

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 104 112
FGM-FGA 37-80 (.463) 40-78 (.513)
3PM-3PA 4-17 (.235) 8-17 (.471)
FTM-FTA 26-29 (.897) 24-25 (.960)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-40 5-33
Assists 16 26
Turnovers 15 15
Steals 10 7
Blocks 3 6
Fast Break Points 13 15
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 22 (0/0)
Largest Lead 2 20

Top Performers

Metta World Peace World Peace
Points: 28
Reb: 4
Ast: 6
Stl: 3
Blk: 0
Steve Nash Nash
Points: 24
Reb: 1
Ast: 13
Stl: 1
Blk: 0