PORTLAND, Ore., April 19 (Ticker) --
Reigning MVP Steve Nash
until the last game of the season to tally a triple-double.
Nash collected 16 points, 12 assists and a season-high 10
rebounds and Shawn Marion
added 32 points and 11 boards as the
Phoenix Suns cruised to a 106-96 victory over the Portland Trail
Blazers in the regular-season finale for both teams.
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Nash recorded his first triple-double of the season and sixth of
his career. The 32-year-old point guard set the mark with an
offensive rebound with 1:29 left in the third period.
"It was a nice bonus at the end of the year but it's not much to
look back on and really doesn't mean too much," Nash said.
"This was more like a practice for us, preparation for the
playoffs. We wanted to go out with the right frame of mind and
I think we did that."
scored 12 points and James Jones
, who converted a
rare four-point play, finished with 11 and 10 boards for the
Suns (54-28), who will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first
round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns won three of
four games from the Lakers during the regular season.
"We know all the stuff that L.A. (Los Angeles) presents and we
know they will be formidable because they're good," Suns coach
said. "We've played them well and we know it's
the playoffs so it will be tough and exciting. I think we are
ready to roll."
"We know who we've got coming and we know what we have to go out
and do," said Marion, who made 14-of-19 shots and collected his
60th double-double. "We left everything on the floor this year and
I think we are ready. We are clicking on all cylinders and it's
time for us to go out there and make a run at this championship."
After making a season-high 20 3-pointers in a 115-78 rout of the
New Orleans Hornets on Monday, Phoenix continued the barrage
from long distance, connecting on 13-of-28 attempts on
"We are in a nice rhythm with our outside shooting but the
shooting is going to come and go with this team," Nash said.
"Most of the time, we make our shots. The nights that we don't
hit our shots, we have to be more active defensively and move
towards the ball. But it's nice to have that rhythm and I'm
ready to roll now."
The Suns took control of the contest with a 15-0 run for a 70-51
lead in the third quarter, highlighted by three shots from the
arc by Thomas. They entered the final period with a 88-66
cushion and cruised thereafter.
Rookies Jarrett Jack
and Martell Webster
scored 18 and 17
points, respectively. Travis Outlaw
and Voshon Lenard
apiece for the Blazers (21-61), who wrapped up the season with
an eight-game losing streak.
"I think we can put this season behind us and focus on next
season," Jack said. "I do think as the month went on we got
better as a team and if everybody goes into the off-season and
works hard, we can show we are capable of competing with any
team in the NBA."
Portland finished with the worst record in the league and went
just 15-26 at the Rose Garden.
"It's been a difficult year for the fans here but we did have
the support and I greatly appreciate that," said Blazers coach
, who completed his first year in Portland after
coaching in Seattle for the previous five seasons. "But we have
to earn the right for support and we're committed to doing
better in the future. The only real positive thing to say about
our goals this year is that we got some of our young guys an
opportunity to play. Now the work really starts."