PHOENIX, March 17 (Ticker) --
The Phoenix Suns had to work overtime but
won a game they could not have afforded to lose.
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collected 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Suns
escaped with a 95-91 overtime victory over the lowly Toronto
Phoenix, which rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third
quarter, pulled within one-half game of idle Houston in the
battle for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
"We had a gut check and we followed through with it and came up
with a good win," Marion said. "We needed that win right there
The Suns held the Raptors without a basket in overtime (0-of-8).
They took the lead for good when Stephon Marbury's
snapped an 89-89 tie with 3:25 left. Marion added a 3-pointer
for a 94-89 cushion with 87 seconds remaining.
Struggling against lesser teams is nothing new for the Suns, who
improved to 13-15 vs. clubs below .500.
"We have a better winning percentage against .500 teams or
better than against teams under .500," Phoenix coach Frank
Johnson said. "I thought we fell victim again. But we found a
way, pulled it out and hit some big shots."
The Raptors tied it, 87-87, with 6.3 seconds left in regulation
on Voshon Lenard's
spin move. But Toronto played the overtime
without Vince Carter
, who fouled out with 1:40 to go in the
"We've just got to get the same calls as the other team down the
stretch. There's no question about it," Toronto coach Lenny
Wilkens said. "He's our best player and when he fouls out, that
takes something away from us."
scored 17 points for the Raptors, who suffered
their sixth straight loss and completed an 0-5 road trip.
"I think the most important part was that we didn't give up and
we continue to try to execute and do things the right," Toronto
center Antonio Davis
said. "We're never happy with a loss, but
we just keep trying to take something positive from each and
The Raptors opened a 62-48 lead on Peterson's free throw midway
through the third quarter. After Carter's 3-pointer made it
69-58 with 3:18 left, Marion scored five points in a 8-0 spurt
that ended the period and pulled the Suns within three.
Marbury and Marion hit consecutive 3-pointers, giving the Suns
their first lead since early in the first quarter at 83-80. But
Phoenix could not put away Toronto, going the final 5:43 of
regulation without a field goal.
Marbury scored 25 points and Penny Hardaway
added 18 for the
Suns, who shot 43 percent from the field (35-of-82) and trailed,
48-41, at the intermission.
"We continued to play, we didn't let up," Marbury said. "We
were resilient at the end of the game. We knew we needed this
game, especially coming off the loss yesterday against Houston."
Carter scored 15 points for the Raptors but missed his only shot
in the fourth quarter. Davis added 16 and 15 rebounds for
Toronto, while Jerome Williams
contributed 13 and 12.
"I don't know," Carter said when asked about his lack of touches
in the fourth quarter. "I'm not the coach and I don't call the
With Toronto trailing, 94-91, and still enough time to go
inside, Williams missed a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Williams is 0-of-9 from the arc in his career. The rebound went
out of bounds and Hardaway made 1-of-2 from the line with 6.5
seconds to go to clinch the victory.
"Everybody said it wasn't a good shot, but I felt it was
something I had to do the way they dropped off me," Williams
said. "I figured we were down three and I took the shot."
The Raptors dropped to 0-13 this season in the back end of games
on consecutive nights.