BOSTON (AP) -- A night after needing two overtimes to escape New
Jersey with a win, the last thing the Phoenix Suns wanted was
another extra session.
So with their game against the Boston Celtics coming down to the
wire yet again, the Suns buckled down and played their best
basketball of the night when it mattered most Friday night.
Shawn Marion scored 29 points and Steve Nash added 16 points and
14 assists to help Phoenix extend its winning streak to nine games
with a 116-111 victory over the Celtics.
"I'm glad we got it over with in regulation," Marion said.
"We're all logging a lot of minutes, but sometimes you just got to
throw it out the window and get it done. And we did."
After back-to-back baskets by Paul Pierce and Delonte West gave
Boston a 102-101 lead with 3:41 to go, Phoenix scored on its last
seven possessions. Marion's 3-pointer from the corner put Phoenix
up 104-102 with 3:16 left, and Amare Stoudemire followed with a
Al Jefferson pulled Boston to within 110-108 with 1:15
remaining, but the Celtics never got closer. Nash made a 17-foot
jumper, then assisted on Marion's jumper to put the game out of
"They don't miss shots," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "They
made some tough shots, and all was set up by one guy -- Steve Nash.
He's just an amazing player to watch."
Pierce scored 36 points for Boston, and Ryan Gomes and Tony
Allen added 18 apiece. The Celtics have lost five straight and
seven of eight.
Raja Bell and Boris Diaw each added 14 points for Phoenix, which
was coming off a 161-157 double-overtime victory over the Nets on
Thursday night. The Suns, who have won 11 of 12 after starting the
season 1-5, won despite tying a season high with 21 turnovers and
allowing 18 second-chance points.
"We kind of stole one tonight," Nash said. "We were a little
tired, a little sloppy and mentally fatigued. But we stepped up and
made the right decisions and plays when it counted."
After spending the day in their hotel room and skipping
shootaround to recover from Thursday night, Phoenix got off to a
quick start. The Suns shot 59 percent in the first quarter to take
a 35-33 lead behind 10 points from Marion and nine from Stoudemire.
Phoenix then extended its lead to 59-54 by halftime before the
fatigue set in.
Pierce scored 25 in the first half to keep the game close, and
Sebastian Telfair scored 12 of his 14 points in the third quarter.
The Celtics forced eight Phoenix turnovers in the third while
holding the Suns to 21 points to take a 79-71 lead late in the
But Phoenix responded with a 9-2 run to end the third, then
pulled away in the fourth by shooting 71 percent and committing
only one turnover.
Nash had five assists in the fourth as Phoenix outscored Boston
36-30 in the period.
"I like the way we played tonight," Pierce said. "We turned
them over a lot, but the difference was our defense once again. We
couldn't get the stops we needed."
Boston forward Wally Szczerbiak missed his second game
with a sprained left ankle. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said
Szczerbiak could return in time for Monday's game in New York.
Allen started in his place. ... It was the eighth straight game the
Suns outscored their opponent in the first quarter. ... Phoenix has
won five straight in Boston since a 109-102 overtime loss on Dec.
7, 2001. ... Nash has 59 assists in his last four games.