Sunsí Third-Quarter Defense Shuts Down Hornets
Posted Nov 23 2006 1:49AM
Phoenix 92, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 83
PHOENIX, Nov. 22 (AP)-- The high-scoring Phoenix Suns turned to their defense on a rare night when their offense wasn't in sync.
Steve Nash scored 24 points and the Suns held New Orleans to 13 points in the third quarter of a 92-83 win Wednesday night.
``We were being active,'' said Shawn Marion, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. ``We were limiting them to one shot and one shot only. We were just playing good, sound defense.''
The Hornets hit nine of 18 shots in the first quarter but only 25 of their final 67. New Orleans had just seven assists, matching a franchise low and setting a Phoenix team mark for the fewest allowed.
``There were some lapses and some letdowns,'' said Raja Bell, who scored all 18 of his points in the first half. ``But the key is to do it when it counts and we did that.''
Boris Diaw scored 18 for the Suns, who have won four of five.
``We gutted it out,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``We didn't play pretty all the time. We were not rolling offensively but you hold a team to 13 points in the third quarter and it's a little bit of a slower game.''
Amare Stoudemire, suffering from a sore throat and flulike symptoms, was held scoreless on one field-goal attempt in 9 minutes for Phoenix.
``We just seemed like we didn't have any energy tonight,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said. ``We just played flat tonight. It was probably the worst game we've played energy-wise.''
New Orleans trailed by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter, but pulled to 71-65 on Tyson Chandler's offensive rebound and dunk with 7:57 remaining.
Diaw and Marion each scored six points as Phoenix outscored the Hornets 20-13 in the third quarter to extend a five-point halftime lead.
Bobby Jackson scored on a tip-in to cut the Suns' lead to 51-48 just 22 seconds into the quarter. But Diaw scored eight of Phoenix's next 10 points on a three-point play, a 3-pointer from the wing and a dunk as the Suns took a 61-55 lead with 5:41 to go.
Marion and Nash each had four points over the final 5 minutes as the Suns closed the period on a 10-4 run for a 71-59 lead.
The Hornets shot 5-of-19 from the floor in the third period.
``The third quarter was a struggle offensively,'' Stojakovic said. ``We didn't make shots and it carried into the fourth quarter, too. We made a couple of runs but it wasn't enough. They're too good offensively.''
Bell was 5-of-6 in the first quarter. His 3-pointer with 5 minutes remaining in the period tied it at 18, and he added a second 3-pointer and assisted on Diaw's layup to key a 15-4 run as Phoenix took a 30-22 lead.
Phoenix, fueled by 71.4 percent first-period shooting, carried a 34-28 lead into the second quarter and stretched the lead to 37-32 on Jalen Rose's 3-pointer from the left corner with 10:05 left in the half.
That was one of only four Phoenix field goals in the period, helping the Hornets pull to 37-36 on a pair of free throws by Jannero Pargo with 7:57 to go.
Notes: Suns G Leandro Barbosa sprained his left ankle with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter and did not return. He is day to day. ... The Suns limited the San Diego Clippers to eight assists on April 7, 1979. ... Stojakovic started 6-of-9 from the floor, then missed his next eight shots before sinking a 3-pointer with 5:52 remaining. ... Phoenix has won nine of the last 10 meetings against the Hornets. ... The Suns started 4-5 last season before winning nine straight en route to their second straight Pacific Division title. ... Paul had four of the Hornets' assists and has led the team in that category in every game this season.
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