Nash, Marion Help Suns Hold Off Kings
Phoenix 112, Sacramento 104
PHOENIX, Feb. 10 (Ticker) -- Reigning MVP Steve Nash and Shawn Marion continue to have the Phoenix Suns playing well above expectations.
Nash collected his 29th double-double with 24 points and 13 assists and Marion added 18 points as the Suns posted their fifth win in six games, a 112-104 triumph over the Sacramento Kings.
With Nash and Marion leading the way, the Suns (33-17) are a season-best 16 games over .500. They were expected to struggle when star forward Amare Stoudemire went down with a knee injury during training camp.
On Friday, the duo combined to connect on 15-of-26 shots, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. The Suns finished with six players in double figures.
Nash and Raja Bell were huge in the first quarter as they combined to score 18 points in helping Phoenix build a 33-21 advantage. The Suns shot 72 percent (13-of-18) in the second quarter to build a 63-48 advantage at halftime. Nash scored 15 points and Marion nine in the half.
"Everybody got it going in the second quarter," said Marion, who added seven rebounds. "We were playing good defense and stopping them. We got out on the break and started doing a lot of things we're used to, running and knocking down shots."
Phoenix built the lead to 76-57 with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter when Nash fed a streaking Marion for a layup, capping off nine straight points for the 6-7 forward.
"Shawn was huge for us especially when he goes on runs like that," Nash added. "He made some great blocks, had some steals and went on that run offensively."
However, the Kings battled back with a 19-5 run in the fourth quarter, closing to 101-95 with 6:35 left. They got within 104-102 with under three minutes remaining on Kevin Martin's floating jumper.
"It is pretty common for us to give up leads," Nash said. "We are looking at the big picture and got another win."
"We played three really good quarters but we have this habit of letting guys back in," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I don't know if I am concerned about letting guys back in the fourth quarter but I hate it. I really believe that we didn't have that super presence in the middle where we can get a couple of dunks or go to the basket and get a foul that other teams have. We will get that back in the next month when Amare comes back."
Nash nailed a jumper and Boris Diaw made two free throws to help the Suns rebuild the lead to 108-104 with 1:46 to go. Nash sealed the win with four free throws in the final minute.
"They played hard down the stretch to make it a two point game and gave ourselves a chance to win," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "We missed shots and then Nash came back in and controlled the last couple minutes. Those other guys were getting rattled and he came back in and controlled the offensive end."
Bell scored 16 points and Diaw added 15 for the Suns, who shot 51 percent (40-of-78) and made 8-of-17 3-pointers. Kurt Thomas had 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
Ron Artest scored 28 points and Shareef Adbur-Rahim contributed 21 off the bench for Sacramento, which shot 46 percent (37-of-80) overall. Star guard Mike Bibby scored just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting.
"Guys didn't give up," said Artest, who added three steals. "This was our first time playing against a good team together, a number one team, as the new Sacramento Kings. We showed character. I think people know we are a definitely a playoff team. We just didn't play the last two minutes right or we would have won."