Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/24

Game 1: Tuesday, January 24th
Game 2: Friday, March 3rd

Magic 118

(20-38, 6-24 away)

Suns 123

(40-17, 24-8 home)

    7:00 PM ET, March 3, 2006

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    ORL 19 37 40 22118
    PHX 27 31 34 31123

    Top Performers

    Orl: J. Nelson 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast

    PHX: B. Diaw 18 Pts, 9 Reb, 11 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Nash-to-Marion connection lifts Suns over Magic

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Tim Thomas has played for six teams in his nine NBA seasons. He might want to stick around in Phoenix for a while.

    Thomas, who had not played since November and was signed by the Suns on Friday, scored a season-high 20 points, and combined with Shawn Marion and Steve Nash to lead the Suns to their ninth straight victory, 123-118, over the Orlando Magic.

    Marion's two alley-oop baskets in the final minute, both on setups from Nash, rallied the Suns from a seven-point deficit in the final 5:13.

    But it was Thomas' unexpected contribution that kept the Suns in the game before their late comeback. He hit 7-of-13 shots, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range.

    "It was a great night," the 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward said. "This is unbelievable. I always wanted to be in this situation, where I could open up my game and run."

    With the Suns still down by five, 116-111 with 3:06 left, they reeled off eight straight points. Marion slammed home an alley-oop pass from Nash with 56.1 seconds remaining, finally putting Phoenix ahead 117-116. Less than 26 seconds later, Marion and Nash hooked up again on an alley-oop play.

    Marion finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. Nash and Boris Diaw each had 18 points and Leandro Barbosa scored 17, hitting all seven of his field goal attempts. Nash also had 13 assists and Diaw had 11 assists and nine rebounds, barely missing a triple double.

    Jameer Nelson, playing in his first game since Jan. 20, scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half for Orlando and Carlos Arroyo added a season-high 21 points. Hedo Turkoglu had 20 points for the Magic, Dwight Howard had 15 and Keyon Dooling 12.

    The loss was the Magic's fourth in a row and 12th in their last 13 games. The Suns have won 12 of 13.

    Orlando's point total was its highest of the season in regulation, surpassing the 111 it scored in a nine-point victory over the Suns on Jan. 24. This was the 20th straight game that the Suns surpassed the 100-point mark.

    Thomas certainly made an impression on Nash, last season's MVP.

    "He's going to get better and better as he understands the offense and what we're trying to do," Nash said. "I'm amazed that the guy can come in after not playing for so long and not even practice with us and get 20 points."

    Orlando coach Brian Hill couldn't help but think the Magic let one get away.

    "We weren't able to execute down the stretch," Hill said. "We had every chance to win the game, but we made a couple of defensive mistakes at the end in transition and they got a couple of easy baskets."

    Thomas, who was signed by Phoenix after being waived by Chicago, showed how well he would fit in with the Suns' fast-breaking and 3-point shooting offense. Thomas hit his first three shots, including a 3-pointer, and scored seven points in 8½ minutes.

    He also provided a little levity to the game, kissing official Bob Delaney on the head after being called for a personal foul in the final minute of the half.

    Turkoglu and Arroyo kept the Magic close in the first half. With 4 minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Suns led by nine points, 50-41, but the Magic outscored them 15-8 the rest of the period, whittling the deficit to two.

    The Suns hit eight 3-pointers in the third quarter, including two more by Thomas, but the aggressive Magic led 96-92 at the end of the period, thanks to 14 points by Nelson.

    Phoenix's long-range shooting gave them an 83-75 lead with 4:57 left in the period, before the Magic went on an 11-0 run and took an 86-83 lead.< ^NOTES@: The Magic's Grant Hill missed the game because of a sports hernia. ... Orlando has lost nine straight on the road, and has not won away from home since beating Philadelphia 119-115 in overtime Jan. 26. ... The Suns' consecutive 100-point streak is the team's longest since doing it 43 times in a row in the 1992-93 season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 118 123
    FGM-FGA 50-90 (.556) 46-89 (.517)
    3PM-3PA 4-10 (.400) 13-31 (.419)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 18-21 (.857)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-40 12-36
    Assists 20 34
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 10 7
    Blocks 4 8
    Fast Break Points 10 23
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 15 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 7 9

    Top Performers

    Jameer Nelson Nelson
    Points: 24
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Boris Diaw Diaw
    Points: 18
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 11
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1