SEATTLE, Dec. 17 (Ticker) --
In a heavily hyped affair, Shawn Marion
quiet until making some noise when it counted to keep the
Phoenix Suns rolling.
Marion scored 10 of his 22 points in the final three minutes and
the Suns stepped up their defensive game down the stretch to
survive for the seventh straight time on the road, posting a
112-110 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
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"It was just my turn," Marion said. "We have so many weapons on
this team, but it was my turn tonight."
The teams combined to produce a 66-98 record last season and
were afterthoughts in a competitive Western Conference playoff
race. In a dramatic reversal, they entered Friday's action with
a combined mark of 37-7 and the top two records in the league.
The best scoring team in the NBA, Phoenix was in danger of
seeing its six-game winning streak snapped before Marion keyed a
After a 10-4 surge gave the Sonics a 102-95 lead with just over
three minutes left, Marion silenced a raucous crowd with a
3-pointer to trigger a 10-1 burst.
fed Marion for a dunk on the Suns' next possession.
After Quentin Richardson
gave Phoenix the lead for good with a
three-point play at the 1:09 mark, Marion made five straight
free throws so help seal the win.
"We didn't play very well tonight, but someone always seems to
go on a run when we need it," said Nash, who had 12 assists to
reach double figures in that category for the seventh straight
game. "I thought our defense in spurts was really good and it
has been all year."
Seattle went 3:10 without a field goal until a pair of
desperation 3-pointers in the closing seconds.
scored 24 points to lead four players with at least
20 for the Suns. His layup with 44 seconds left put the Suns
"If we make stops and don't break down on the defensive end of
the floor, you have a chance to win this game," Sonics coach
Nate McMillan said. "Defensively we just broke down that last
Phoenix improved its league-best road mark to 10-1, with the
last two wins by a combined five points.
"That was a great game," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They
started off really fired up. They were out of their minds at
first. We held tough like we've been doing most of the year.
We made some stops at the end. We just don't lose heart."
Seattle's Ray Allen
scored 32 points but just six in the fourth
quarter and did not make a 3-pointer until five seconds
remained. The league's best 3-point shooting team entering the
game, the Sonics were just 8-of-26 from the arc.
"We just had breakdowns at the end that allowed them to get back
into the game, and then we missed a couple of shots at the end
and that's the ballgame," McMillan said.
Despite the loss, Allen thought the game was fun.
"It was a great game to be a part of," Allen said. "It was very
up-tempo. Shots were rolling in from everywhere. I missed a
layup (late in the game) and I know that would have put us in a
different situation. But the final conclusion is that they beat
us. We could have won, but it's over with now."
With 17,000-plus energized from the opening tip, the Sonics
started fast, shooting 62 percent in the first quarter en route
to a 37-21 lead.
Phoenix roared back to cut the halftime deficit to 57-55.
"They are a great team," Marion said. "I give them thumbs up.
Coach McMillan has them out there doing his thing. They hit
some big shots. You have to give them credit."