6:00 PM ET, February 11, 2007
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
PHOENIX -- No Nash, no Diaw, not much chance -- even against the road-weary Bulls.
A Chicago team at the end of a seven-game road trip, playing for the third time in four nights, was still too much for the severely short-handed Phoenix Suns.
The Suns have lost their last two games, both without Steve Nash, by a combined margin of 22 points. With Nash on the floor this season, Phoenix has outscored its opponents by 456 points. But with Nash on the bench, the Suns have allowed 54 more points than they've scored.
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Kirk Hinrich scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter Sunday night, and the Bulls beat the Suns 116-103.
Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak to finish 3-4 on the trip.
"It's been a pretty tough road trip with some losses we feel like we should have won," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. "It would have been very easy for the guys to just look forward to going home and not bring it, but we brought it."
The Bulls had lost five in a row to the Suns and eight straight in Phoenix. Chicago last beat the Suns on the road when the Michael Jordan-led Bulls did it on Nov. 20, 1996.
Phoenix played without Steve Nash, the league's two-time defending MVP, for the third consecutive game -- the last two of them losses -- because of a sore right shoulder. The Suns also didn't have starter Boris Diaw because of back spasms.
"When Steve doesn't play, it's not the same," Skiles said. "He IS the style that they play, but that's why you've got to win the game. When somebody's short-handed like that, you've got to be able to win the game. I thought our guys were great today."
Phoenix has one game left before the All-Star break, Wednesday at Seattle, and coach Mike D'Antoni indicated Nash might miss that one, as well.
"We'll see. It's definitely not responded to treatment," the coach said. "We're going to err on the side of caution. At this point, we might as well make sure he's fine."
The Suns lost to the Bulls 116-103, suffering their first double-digit loss of the season in their 51st game. Here are the longest streaks to start a season without a double-digit setback and how those teams fared:
|1995-96 Bulls||45||Won NBA Finals|
|1994-95 Jazz||44||Lost first round|
|1971-72 Lakers||42||Won NBA Finals|
|1996-97 Bulls||38||Won NBA Finals|
There's no word on whether Nash is considering sitting out next Sunday's All-Star Game.
The Suns were beaten by double digits for the first time this season. Phoenix also lost its third straight at home, the first time that's happened since the start of the 2004-05 season.
Leandro Barbosa scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half, when the Suns rallied from 15 down to take a seven-point lead. Amare Stoudemire also scored 26 for Phoenix, which shot 41 percent for the night to the Bulls' 51 percent.
Chicago didn't look tired in the fourth quarter, dominating the Suns 37-19.
"Guys just don't want to end a road trip on a bad note," Gordon said. "Not that we weren't trying to win the other games. Obviously, we were. But guys were trying to grind it out. I think that shows a lot about this team. We didn't just lie down and try to get it over with. We came out to compete."
It was the second fourth-quarter collapse for the Nash-less Suns. They gave up 40 fourth-quarter points in a home loss to Atlanta on Friday night. But unlike the Hawks' debacle, D'Antoni liked the effort in this one.
"We'll get our guys back some I'm not `worried' worried," he said. "There are a few details that we need to take care of and get better at, and just hang in there right now."
Hinrich, 5-for-7 on 3-pointers, scored eight, including a pair of 3s, in a 10-3 run that put Chicago ahead for good.
The Suns trailed by as many as 15 early in the third quarter, but mounted a 20-2 run after coach Mike D'Antoni chose to leave Barbosa in when the Brazilian guard drew his fourth foul with 7 1/2 minutes left in the period.
With Chicago leading 75-64, Barbosa started the run with a 3-pointer. Chicago committed eight turnovers during the Suns' surge. Stoudemire's two free throws capped the outburst and put Phoenix ahead 84-77 with 43 seconds to play in the third quarter.
But the Bulls scored the next nine points, two to end the third and seven to start the fourth quarter, regaining the lead, 86-84, on Hinrich's driving layup with 10:14 left.
"For a while there in the third, we just weren't moving the ball very well," Hinrich said. "Everybody was just kind of trying to do their own thing. We weren't getting anything, then all of a sudden we got some stops. The ball just started moving. We started getting some great looks, and we knocked them down."
The Suns are 4-10 without Nash since he came to Phoenix three years ago, 2-3 this year. ... Chicago was without starting forward P.J. Brown, also because of back spasms. ... The Suns announced Saturday that their remaining home games are sold out. ... Together, Nash and Diaw are averaging 17 assists per game.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||41-81 (.506)||35-86 (.407)|
|3PM-3PA||7-15 (.467)||7-19 (.368)|
|FTM-FTA||27-40 (.675)||26-33 (.788)|
|Fast Break Points||3||16|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||30 (2/0)||32 (2/0)|