Marion, Suns Snap Wizardsí Streak
Phoenix 104, Washington 99
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (Ticker) -- The Washington Wizards were poised to extend their winning streak, but Shawn Marion and Steve Nash had other ideas.
Marion scored 28 points and Nash added 19 points and 16 assists as the Phoenix Suns overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 3 1/2 minutes to post a 104-99 triumph over the Wizards.
However, the lead quickly was shaved to one as James Jones, who finished with 16 points, connected on a shot from the arc before Marion's three-point play with 2:50 remaining.
The teams traded a pair of baskets before Nash gave Phoenix, which lost at home to Washington on Friday, a 100-99 lead with a driving layup at the 1:11 mark.
Nash later found Marion for an alley-oop dunk for a three-point bulge with 25 seconds to go.
"We got a big block to start the break and Steve got the ball out," Marion said. "I was ahead of the pack, which I'm always, and got a lob."
Nash, however, deferred credit to his teammates for digging in on defense down the stretch.
"It's misleading to say it was me and Shawn (that keyed the comeback)," he said. "It was everybody. We did a good job scrapping and a good job defensively on the last few possessions - a good job of hanging in there and getting some steals and not giving them anything.
"Tonight obviously was all about effort and energy for us because we certainly were not making shots at the rate we normally do and really didn't have a rhythm we like to have."
Marion agreed with that sentiment.
"We've just got to force the tempo of the game into playoff style of play," he said. "We aren't playing like we usually play. Even when we were winning, we weren't pushing the ball the way we're capable of. We say we want to run but we don't do it. We're getting stops, so I don't see why we don't want to run. Steve can't do it all by himself. He gets tired out there, just like I do. Other guys have got to step up and push the ball."
Gilbert Arenas, who scored 16 points, missed all six of his 3-pointers, one with 21 seconds left. The Wizards got another attempt after a loose ball foul on Boris Diaw, but Caron Butler, who scored 22 points, clanged a shot off the rim with 10 seconds left.
"I turned the ball over at a key point during the game and I also had a great look at a 3-point shot that didn't fall," Butler said. "It's heartbreaking."
Nash added a pair of free throws with 4.5 seconds to go for Phoenix, which missed its first eight shots of the fourth quarter before recovering to go 11-of-16.
"He's such a deadly shooter that you have to focus on him, and then he can get 16 assists," Arenas said of Nash. "He's just one of those players who's hard to stop either way."
"He's the MVP," Butler added. "He was finding open teammates and making plays all night."
The Suns ended the game with a 16-4 run.
"We just had some poor possessions offensively down the stretch," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "I think we had 11 turnovers in the last 18 minutes. We did not come up with the plays we needed and they made some athletic plays."
Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni just wants the Suns to hold the fort until Amare Stoudemire returns in mid-February from left knee surgery.
"We'll keep this thing going until Amare gets back and then we'll see what kind of team we have at that point," D'Antoni said. "But yeah, I believe we can win our division. I believed the first day."
"When a lot of people thought we'd fall off the face of the earth without Amare, we're in there for the division lead," Nash added.