ATLANTA, Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- Even though Joe Johnson wanted a little payback, former Atlanta Hawk Boris Diaw wanted to show what he could do with a little more playing time.

Diaw scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Nash added 22 points as the Phoenix Suns escaped with a 110-106 victory over the Hawks.

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In his first two seasons in Atlanta, Diaw averaged 4.7 points while playing 22 minutes per contest. Playing 10 more minutes per game in the Suns' up-tempo system, the versatile 6-8 swingman has dramatically improved in points, assists, rebounds and shooting percentage.

"I think I fit in better in the game plan and the way I'm used," said Diaw, who saw time at every position but center while with Atlanta. "You have to use me the right way. We've got a lot of freedom and creativity (in Phoenix). I like creativity."

Diaw was sent to Phoenix in the offseason for Johnson, who wanted more money and a bigger role in an offense.

"I've been getting better," said Diaw, a native of France who was criticized for passing on the big shot while a member of the Hawks. "I don't stay at the same level of last year. I feel good. We won today."

"He played well," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "He's been playing well all year for them. He's done a lot of good things for them. I'm happy for Boris. He didn't want to be here. He's in a place where he's happy and comfortable and he's played well. You have to tip your hat to him and wish him well."

The teams traded baskets for most of the fourth quarter before Diaw nailed a jumper to give the Suns a 104-102 advantage with 1:07 to go. Rookie Salim Stoudamire answered 21 seconds later with a 3-pointer to put the Hawks ahead, but Nash - the reigning MVP - responded by draining a shot from the arc for a 107-105 advantage with 35 seconds to play.

"In a tight game, you try to make the decisions and make the right plays down the stretch," said Nash, who had eight rebounds and nine assists. "That's my job."

The Hawks had a chance to tie, but Al Harrington split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds to go. With the Hawks needing to foul, Josh Childress lost track of Leandro Barbosa, who got a wide-open layup.

"It's about making plays down the stretch," Woodson said. "You can't give up layups. You can't give up 3-pointers. Nash made a big 3-pointer. That was a huge play down the stretch."

Stoudamire missed a potential tying 3-pointer, but Atlanta got another chance when Phoenix's Raja Bell lost the ball out of bounds. Tyronn Lue missed a deep 3-pointer with two seconds remaining as the Suns secured their second road win in as many days.

"We had a couple of defensive lapses the last minute, minute-and-a-half in the game," Woodson said. "Salim had a good look at the three to tie it, and Lue also had a good look as well."

"It's very tough because we had a great chance of winning the basketball game," Johnson said. "We keep ourselves in the basketball game and at the end, they just made some tough shots and we just couldn't come up with the key play. It's very frustrating."

Diaw added eight rebounds and five assists. Shawn Marion had 15 points and eight boards for Phoenix, which scored 17 fast-break points. Johnson scored 27 points to lead the Hawks, who were swept in the season series and have lost four of their last five overall. Facing a 31-22 deficit after the opening period, the Suns answered with a 10-0 run to begin the second quarter. Phoenix outscored Atlanta, 35-19, in the frame to take a 57-50 lead at the break.