Nash, Thomas Lift Suns Past Nets
Phoenix 92, New Jersey 81
PHOENIX, Nov. 25 (Ticker) -- Neither the New Jersey Nets nor the Phoenix Suns are moving as quickly as they used to. But the Suns still have Steve Nash.
Nash scored 25 points and Kurt Thomas finally found his niche with 19 rebounds as the Suns kept the Nets winless on their road trip with a 92-81 victory.
Part of that is due to the absence of injured All-Star center Amare Stoudemire and the incorporation of defensive-minded acquisitions such as Thomas and Bell. But remaining at the controls is Nash, the 2005 NBA MVP who has been looking more for his own offense.
The All-Star guard scored seven points in the first quarter, when the Suns took the lead for good. He added 10 in the final period, when Phoenix pulled away as New Jersey stalled.
"With our personnel right now it is very important for us to be stingier on defense," Nash said. "We are built for that and we are not as apt to score 120 points a night, so we have to do it on both ends."
The Nets fell to 0-3 on their five-game road trip. Once the most feared running team in the NBA, they were held to a season low in points, including only three on the fast break.
New Jersey, which trailed by 20 points in the second quarter, cut the deficit to 72-68 on a three-point play by Richard Jefferson with 10:55 to play. The Nets still were within 80-73 after a jump hook by Jason Kidd with just under eight minutes to go before going more than seven minutes without a hoop.
"We made plays, it just wasn't in the fourth quarter," Jefferson said. "It was the first two quarters that put us in a whole. You just can't look at the fourth quarter and say what if."
Jefferson missed a dunk on which he appeared to be fouled and, after a jumper by Nash, misfired on a pair of free throws. The Nets committed turnovers on their next two possessions, and Nash sank a pair of jumpers around a feed to Thomas for a jumper, building the lead to 86-73 with 3:45 left.
Boris Diaw had 10 points and nine assists and James Jones scored 10 points for the Suns, who held a 46-42 advantage in rebounds. Thomas had a lot to do with that as he found the pace to his liking.
More of a deliberate player accustomed to a half-court game, Thomas had no more than nine rebounds in any game this season and had 19 in his last four, a total he matched Friday.
"Without a doubt I have been focusing on rebounding," Thomas said. "I've been struggling with my shot all year long, so I just wanted to come out and rebound the ball. We know we can outscore a lot of teams so we need to focus on the defense."
Kidd had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Vince Carter scored 23 points and Jefferson added 16 and 12 for the Nets, who shot less than 40 percent (30-of-76).
"(Where) we hurt ourselves was on the offensive end," Nets Coach Lawrence Frank said. "We went small and lost our flow in the first quarter. We have to continue our flow to maintain our organization to give ourselves looks."
Carter returned after missing one game with a back strain. He was hobbled a bit but got off to a good start, which could not be said of his teammates. The Nets had more turnovers (6) than assists (4) in the first half and trailed, 44-30.
The Suns have held their last five opponents under 100 points.
"Our defense was awesome, but we are having trouble at home finding the hoop," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "If we keep on playing well, our shots will come. I am not remotely worried. We have really good shooters, so the shots will come around."