7:00 PM ET, January 12, 2008
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Nash, shaking off the lingering effects of stomach flu, scored 26 of his season-high 35 points in the second half and the Suns beat the Bucks in Phoenix for the 20th consecutive time, 122-114 on Saturday night.
"I actually didn't feel great, but somebody was smiling on me," he said, "and a bunch of shots went in."
Nash was 11-of-13 shooting, 4-of-5 of them 3s, in the final two quarters. He left Wednesday night's game against Indiana in the third quarter and missed Thursday night's loss at Utah because of what he termed a "pretty nasty" illness.
He was no sure thing for this game, either.
The Suns and the Bucks entered the NBA together in 1968. A year later, Milwaukee won a coin flip with Phoenix that determined which team would choose first in that year's NBA draft. With the first pick, the Bucks drafted Lew Alcindor (soon to change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar); picking second, Phoenix selected Neal Walk.
It has taken a while, but the Suns are taking their revenge. The Bucks battled but finally succumbed to the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday; that makes it 20 losses for Milwaukee in their last 20 visits to the Valley of the Sun, the NBA's longest current road losing streak against one team.
"I didn't know this moring if I was going to be able to play to be honest," Nash said, "but it was decent."
The Suns' dominance of the Bucks is the longest active home winning streak of its kind in the NBA. The Spurs have beaten Golden State in San Antonio 19 straight times.
"An unbelievable player," Nash said of the inconsistent Diaw. "When he uses all his weapons and is aggressive, he's a fantastic talent. I'd love to see him play like that all the time, and I don't mean the numbers. I mean being involved, being part of the game, putting pressure on the defense."
Andrew Bogut made 14-of-16 shots, all near the basket, for a career-best 29 points to lead the Bucks, who were playing one night after losing 110-105 against the Lakers in Los Angeles. Michael Redd added 18 points but on 5-of-16 shooting in his first start in six games.
"This was a dangerous team for us," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They score in all kinds of ways."
The Suns shot 57 percent in a game that featured little defense.
The Bucks were up by as many as 10 points and led 68-61 at halftime. But Phoenix outscored the Milwaukee 35-18 in the third quarter, finishing it with a 13-3 run to lead 96-86 entering the fourth.
"At the start of the second half, I think we stubbed our foot a little bit," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "They got the crowd back into it, got them feeling good about themselves and then we ran into three guys [Nash, Diaw and Stoudemire] that shot about 75 percent between the three of them."
Milwaukee hasn't won in Phoenix since Feb. 21, 1987.
But this one was no blowout.
The Bucks cut the lead to 100-94 on Royal Ivey's 13-footer with 9:22 left, but Nash, Stoudemire and Raja Bell returned to the game. Nash made a 19-footer, Stoudemire a 7-foot runner and Nash a 3-pointer, boosting Phoenix's lead to 109-98.
"Their pick-and-roll is probably the best in the league," Redd said, "so difficult to guard."
Milwaukee sliced it to 116-111 when Redd made two free throws with 2:39 to go, then Nash's 15-footer put Phoenix ahead by seven 1:38 from the finish. Charlie Bell's 3-pointer cut it to 118-114 with 56 seconds left, and the Bucks had a chance to get closer, but Raja Bell blocked Redd's shot.
Raja Bell and Nash put it away with a pair of free throws apiece.
Milwaukee outscored Phoenix 21-7 to go up 60-50 on Bogut's dunk with 2:38 left in the first half.
"They're a tough team," Bogut said. "They almost let you score so they can get the ball back and push it right back at you."
The Bucks shot 62 percent, 8-of-14 from 3-point range, while taking a 68-61 halftime lead.
Stoudemire scored 21 in the first half, 16 on 8-for-9 shooting in the first quarter. His only miss in the first was a 3-pointer.
But Bogut faced even less resistance, scoring 17 in the first half on 8-of-8 shooting. Simmons scored 15 in the half, making 7-of-9 shots.
The last four home games for Phoenix came against teams playing the second of back-to-back sets. The Suns won three of them. ... Phoenix is 14-2 against the Eastern Conference. ... ... The last time the Bucks won in Phoenix, John Lucas was their leading scorer with 24 points.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||48-86 (.558)||45-79 (.570)|
|3PM-3PA||11-20 (.550)||11-26 (.423)|
|FTM-FTA||7-11 (.636)||21-25 (.840)|
|Fast Break Points||7||7|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||11 (0/0)|