PHOENIX, March 3 (Ticker) -- Steve Nash
came back once, then came back
again to lift the Phoenix Suns to clutch win at home.
After a three-game layoff to rest a strained left hamstring,
Nash returned to score 16 points and dish out 14 assists as the
Suns rallied for a 100-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
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Phoenix improved to 41-10 with Nash in the lineup, compared to
2-4 without him, and snapped a four-game slide vs. Detroit. It
needed a fourth-quarter comeback fueled by their All-Star
playmaker to do so.
Nash had 11 assists through the first three quarters but
struggled from the floor, shooting 3-of-10 as Detroit took a
76-66 lead into the fourth.
He sat the first half of the final period while the Suns began
their charge, returning with 5:52 left and the Pistons clinging
to an 84-83 lead. Moments later, he hit a pair of free throws
to give Phoenix the lead for good.
"I certainly struggled a bit at times. My leg is not 100
percent," Nash said. "We won this game because we finally got
tough. Down the stretch, our bench gave us a great run and kept
us in the game. Once we saw a little opportunity, a little
hope, we got tough."
Those foul shots came early in a 19-10 run, during which Nash
scored nine points and had three assists. He hit a 3-pointer
with 66 seconds left and two more free throws in the final
minute to make it 100-94.
"They made shots and we didn't," Detroit coach Larry Brown said.
"We got in early foul trouble in the quarter and we had 21
offensive rebounds and didn't get into the bonus. It is tough."
"We are a high-powered team," said Suns center Amare Stoudemire
who had 26 points and 10 rebounds. "We were able to take the
fourth quarter and tonight, me and Steve did it."
Nash assisted on back-to-back baskets by Stoudemire to put
Phoenix on top, 95-90, with just under two minutes left.
After Nash's free throws, Rasheed Wallace
buried a 3-pointer to
pull Detroit within three and, following a miss by Shawn Marion
on the other end, the Pistons had a chance to tie in the final
took the inbounds pass for Detroit and
immediately attempted a 3-pointer, only to miss and watch Marion
secure the rebound as time expired.
"We had them right where we wanted and executed at the end,"
Billups said. "We had them at the range we wanted - 100 points
- but we couldn't hit our shots."
Nash has recorded at least 11 assists in 12 straight games, the
first player to do so since Mark Jackson
during the 1996-97
Wallace scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the
Pistons, who had their league-high eight-game winning streak
snapped and fell to 3-1 on their current six-game road trip.
added 18 rebounds to help Detroit post a 56-37
advantage on the boards.
Detroit fell to 30-3 when leading after three quarters and is
now 3-8 when it allows its opponents to score 100 or more
The Suns snapped a four-game home losing streak against the
Pistons and improved to 13-1 against Eastern Conference
opponents at home.
Phoenix, the top offensive club in the league, turned the tables
on Detroit, which boasts the second-ranked defense, holding the
defending champions without a basket for over four minutes down
Suns coach Mike D'Antoni still sees room for improvement.
"We didn't play extremely well," D'Antoni said. "The win for us
was huge, but it is even better when we win and don't play well
and win. I think we can run and play better against these
guys, but they are the ultimate test."