PHOENIX (AP) -- The high-scoring Phoenix Suns turned to their
defense on a rare night when their offense wasn't in sync.
Steve Nash scored 24 points and the Suns held New Orleans to 13
points in the third quarter of a 92-83 win Wednesday night.
"We were being active," said Shawn Marion, who finished with
15 points and seven rebounds. "We were limiting them to one shot
and one shot only. We were just playing good, sound defense."
The Hornets hit nine of 18 shots in the first quarter but only
25 of their final 67. New Orleans had just seven assists, matching
a franchise low and setting a Phoenix team mark for the fewest
"There were some lapses and some letdowns," said Raja Bell,
who scored all 18 of his points in the first half. "But the key is
to do it when it counts and we did that."
Boris Diaw scored 18 for the Suns, who have won four of five.
"We gutted it out," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We didn't
play pretty all the time. We were not rolling offensively but you
hold a team to 13 points in the third quarter and it's a little bit
of a slower game."
Amare Stoudemire, suffering from a sore throat and flulike
symptoms, was held scoreless on one field-goal attempt in 9 minutes
"We just seemed like we didn't have any energy tonight,"
Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We just played flat tonight. It
was probably the worst game we've played energy-wise."
New Orleans trailed by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter,
but pulled to 71-65 on Tyson Chandler's offensive rebound and dunk
with 7:57 remaining.
Marcus Banks then hit a pair of free throws, Kurt Thomas added a
driving layup and Nash sank a running hook shot as the shot clock
expired to give the Suns a 77-65 lead with 6:49 to go.
Diaw and Marion each scored six points as Phoenix outscored the
Hornets 20-13 in the third quarter to extend a five-point halftime
Bobby Jackson scored on a tip-in to cut the Suns' lead to 51-48
just 22 seconds into the quarter. But Diaw scored eight of
Phoenix's next 10 points on a three-point play, a 3-pointer from
the wing and a dunk as the Suns took a 61-55 lead with 5:41 to go.
Marion and Nash each had four points over the final 5 minutes as
the Suns closed the period on a 10-4 run for a 71-59 lead.
The Hornets shot 5-of-19 from the floor in the third period.
"The third quarter was a struggle offensively," Stojakovic
said. "We didn't make shots and it carried into the fourth
quarter, too. We made a couple of runs but it wasn't enough.
They're too good offensively."
Bell was 5-of-6 in the first quarter. His 3-pointer with 5
minutes remaining in the period tied it at 18, and he added a
second 3-pointer and assisted on Diaw's layup to key a 15-4 run as
Phoenix took a 30-22 lead.
Phoenix, fueled by 71.4 percent first-period shooting, carried a
34-28 lead into the second quarter and stretched the lead to 37-32
on Jalen Rose's 3-pointer from the left corner with 10:05 left in
That was one of only four Phoenix field goals in the period,
helping the Hornets pull to 37-36 on a pair of free throws by
Jannero Pargo with 7:57 to go.
Suns G Leandro Barbosa sprained his left ankle with 8:33
remaining in the second quarter and did not return. He is day to
day. ... The Suns limited the San Diego Clippers to eight assists
on April 7, 1979. ... Stojakovic started 6-of-9 from the floor,
then missed his next eight shots before sinking a 3-pointer with
5:52 remaining. ... Phoenix has won nine of the last 10 meetings
against the Hornets. ... The Suns started 4-5 last season before
winning nine straight en route to their second straight Pacific
Division title. ... Paul had four of the Hornets' assists and has
led the team in that category in every game this season.