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Dudley scores 21 to lead Suns past tired Hornets
Jared Dudley scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and the Phoenix Suns beat the weary New Orleans Hornets 92-75 on Sunday night.
Shannon Brown, starting for injured Grant Hill, added 16 for Phoenix. Channing Frye had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Marcin Gortat scored 13 and Steve Nash handed out 14 assists for the Suns, who climbed back to .500 and are 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Jason Smith and Marco Belinelli scored 14 apiece for the Hornets. Jarrett Jack added 13.
The Hornets, finishing off a five-game road trip, became the third team in the NBA and first in the West to lose 40 games.
Phoenix dominated the game at the foul line, going 19 of 21 to the Hornets' 7 of 9. After the Suns took a 50-41 halftime lead, Brown led an 18-4 run that put Phoenix ahead 70-49 with 4:36 left in the third quarter.
He started the outburst with three free throws after being fouled by Belinelli, then stole the ball from Smith and sank a 3. Brown ended the run with a 14-footer. Dudley scored six straight points during the surge.
The Hornets scored six in a row to cut it to 72-58 on two free throws by Greivis Vasquez before the Suns' Josh Childress sank a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to boost the lead to 75-58 entering the fourth. It was just the fourth 3 of the season for Childress and first since Feb. 4.
New Orleans got no closer than 12 in the final quarter.
The Hornets led only once, 33-32 on a 3-pointer by Al-Farouq Aminu with 7:31 left in the first half.
Phoenix used an 11-2 run to go up 49-39 on a pair of free throws by Frye with 1:46 left in the half. Michael Redd started the spurt with a three-point play and Brown scored on a reverse layup and 21-footer.
The Suns' Robin Lopez, on his 24th birthday, scored all 10 of his points in the nine minutes of the second quarter on 2 of 2 shooting and 6 of 6 from the foul line. Frye had eight points and nine rebounds in the first half.
The Hornets, already ravaged by injuries, lost Chris Johnson with a concussion in the first half.
NOTES: The Suns play seven of their next eight on the road. ... After dressing just eight players the previous two games, New Orleans had 10 this time with the return of Chris Kaman from a five-game absence due to illness and Gustavo Ayon from a three-game leave for the birth of his child. ... The Suns' Markieff Morris missed his second straight game with the flu but coach Alvin Gentry said the rookie forward is expected back for Tuesday's game against the Clippers in Los Angeles. ... Phoenix won the season series 3-1.
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