7:00 PM ET, January 7, 2008
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
PHOENIX (AP) -- So much for the Phoenix Suns' chemistry woes.
General manager Steve Kerr had a little talk with the team before Monday's shootaround. What followed was a 3-point barrage that an old sharpshooter like Kerr surely appreciated.
With 10 assists and two 3-pointers made against the Nuggets, Steve Nash has recorded at least 10 assists and made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 10 games, tying Magic Johnson for the second-longest such streak in NBA history.
Shawn Marion scored a season-high 27 points, had six blocked shots, and hit five of Phoenix's 20 3-pointers to lead the Suns to a 137-115 romp over the Denver Nuggets in a division leaders' matchup that quickly became a mismatch.
"A good day at the office, I guess you could say," Marion said.
Marcus Banks, who has played his way back into the Suns' rotation, made a career-high seven 3s -- in eight attempts -- en route to a season-best 23 points. The 20 3-pointers matched a franchise record and were one shy of the NBA record set by Toronto on March 13, 2005.
Steve Nash said Kerr told the players "he just believes in us and wants us to believe in one another and give ourselves our best possible chance."
Nash said that he hopes the talk had an influence on the game.
"But you can't expect Steve to make a Knute Rockne everyday," Nash said. "Hopefully, we're capable of being professional."
Kerr downplayed the talk, saying it was something that happens on teams a few times in a season.
After four games in five nights, the Nuggets were in no shape to match the highly motivated Suns.
"They got happy and they got cocky and they rubbed our faces in the game a little bit," Denver coach George Karl said. "It will be fun the next time we play them."
Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said too much has been made of the team's perceived chemistry problems, and he blamed himself for "over-exaggerating."
"It's a matter of everybody just going after it," he said. "Let's get after it. Let's go win rather than 'Woe is me, I hope we don't lose.'"
The Suns jumped out to a 17-6 lead, were up by 23 in the second quarter and 25 in the third in their best offensive showings of the season after a disappointing 118-113 home loss to New Orleans on Saturday.
Marion made 11-of-15 shots and grabbed 14 rebounds before leaving with 4:23 to play. The five 3-pointers, all of which came in the first half, matched a career-high. He equaled his career high with the six blocks. It was the fifth time Marion has had five 3s or six blocks.
Banks, who has fallen out of favor with D'Antoni on numerous occasions, has earned his way into the rotation with his play in the last three games.
"What he needs to do, and he's doing it, is learn how not to foul in crucial times, how not to turn it over, how not to jack one up and be a real team guy," D'Antoni said, "and he's trying."
Banks said he hoped for more playing time.
There were only two games in the NBA on Monday night, but the four teams scored enough points for half the league.
| || || |
|High team points||130||137|
|High scorer points||34||32|
"All I can do is sit over there and wait until my name's called," he said. "When it comes, I'm going to go 110 percent and give them my all and just take care of business out there."
Down by 25 early in the third quarter, the Nuggets used an 11-2 run to cut it to 101-90 on Camby's three-point play with 25.6 seconds left in the third. But Stoudemire sank a 16-footer, Iverson missed two free throws and Leandro Barbosa made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to boost Phoenix's lead to 106-90 entering the fourth.
Denver, coming off a home victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, closed to 112-99 on Nene's fastbreak layup with 6:48 remaining, but Banks ended any comeback hopes with a pair of 3s.
The first half ended after Brian Skinner drew an offensive foul on Kenyon Martin, then made -- what else? -- a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 78-59. It was Skinner's second career 3-pointer. His first, from about 40 feet, came earlier this year at the halftime buzzer against Sacramento.
Phoenix made 11-of-15 3s in their second-highest-scoring half of the season. The Suns shot 60 percent in the first half and were led by Marion with 21 points.
Phoenix made nine of its first 10 shots en route to a 46-point first quarter.
Phoenix raced to its big first-half lead despite foul trouble. Boris Diaw had four and Marion, Stoudemire and Hill three apiece. ... Stoudemire missed practice on Tuesday, saying he needed to stay home with his ill son. ... Iverson entered the contest scoring 21.8 points per game against the Suns, his lowest average against any NBA team.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||41-96 (.427)||50-93 (.538)|
|3PM-3PA||4-13 (.308)||20-31 (.645)|
|FTM-FTA||29-40 (.725)||17-18 (.944)|
|Fast Break Points||4||12|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (2/0)||32 (0/0)|