Nash, Bell Lift Suns Past Heat
Phoenix 107, Miami 98
MIAMI, Jan. 26 (Ticker) -- The Miami Heat still can't figure out how to slow down Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.
Nash scored 21 points and handed out 14 assists and Raja Bell added 22 points as the Suns jumped ahead early and held off a late run in a 107-98 victory over the Heat.
"I really don't have an answer for that team," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "We don't have a defensive game for them. I think you need to play them four, five or six times to realize exactly what it is that you need to do to try and stop them."
"I thought we finished off tonight," Nash said. "We were always up for it. We played well."
After using an 11-0 run that featured an alley-oop jam from Shawn Marion off a pass by Boris Diaw that helped the Suns to a 30-20 lead after one quarter, Phoenix led by at least six points until the third quarter.
Dwyane Wade made two free throws with 4:15 remaining to pull the Heat within 98-93. But Nash answered 27 seconds later with a 3-pointer and also hit a floater over the 7-1 Shaquille O'Neal while drawing a foul as the Suns rebuilt the lead to double digits with 2:45 remaining.
"He's the true definition of a great point guard," said O'Neal, who finished second to Nash in MVP voting last season. "He gets all his teammates involved. There's nothing bad you can say about a player like that."
Nash made four 3-pointers and grabbed six rebounds for Phoenix, which avoided a third straight loss. Bell hit five shots from the arc.
Miami native James Jones scored 17 of his 20 points in the second quarter, Marion collected 19 and 12 rebounds and Diaw netted 10 points for the Suns.
"We don't really have a power presence, so it's important for us to move the ball and create shots for one another," Nash said. "If we're creating an equal amount of shots for one another, I think we're doing a pretty good job of moving the ball, and making the shots as difficult to guard as possible."
"We had great contributions from everybody," Marion said. "Everybody shot about the same amount of shots. It was just a matter of everybody hitting the big shots for us tonight, at one point or another."
Wade scored 25 points and James Posey and Udonis Haslem had 16 apiece for Miami, which shot 44 percent (44-of-90) and made just 12-of-22 free throws.
O'Neal had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Antoine Walker finished with 10 and 11 off the bench.
The Suns, who went 13-of-24 from the arc, led by as many as 21 points. They shot 57 percent (24-of-42) in the first half en route to building a 66-47 lead.
"They shot the ball well," Wade said. "Letting two or three guys get 20 points or more, that's hard to overcome, especially against a team like the Suns."
"We made shots," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "In the first half, we blazed it, and in the second, we didn't and they almost caught us, but we had enough of a cushion to hold them off. A number of our guys just played really well."
A dunk by Haslem with 3:08 left in the third quarter pulled the Heat within 76-70. But Nash hit a 3-pointer to trigger a 14-2 surge to close the period.
Miami responded with its own 14-2 run to open the fourth quarter and clawed within 92-86 following a dunk by Wade with 7:23 left.
"They are a very, very unique team," Riley said. "I don't think I've seen anything quite like that in a long time. They've got the shooters and they have a great point guard that makes a lot of plays."