PHOENIX, May 18 (Ticker) -- Steve Nash
was a scorer, passer and
rebounder, which made the Phoenix Suns a winner.
Nash notched his first career playoff triple-double with 34
points, 12 assists and 13 rebounds, leading the Suns to a
114-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the pivotal fifth
game of their Western Conference semifinal series.
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The top-seeded Suns also received huge contributions from Amare Stoudemire
and Jim Jackson
as they moved within one win of
their first trip to the conference finals in 12 years.
In Game 4, Nash had a career-high 48 points as the Mavericks
turned the pass-happy point guard into a scorer by overplaying
Stoudemire in the pick-and-roll. Nash was limited to five
assists and committed nine turnovers as Phoenix lost.
Back on his home floor, Nash continued to look for his offense
as he made 13-of-26 shots, most of them mid-range jumpers in
pick-and-roll situations. But the NBA MVP also was able to find
the seams in the defense, which allowed him to get Stoudemire
back in the flow.
"I always love to see my teammates have fun, get their energy
up," Nash said. "But at the same time, being one of the best
shootetrs on the team, I have to shoot when I'm open. I just
have to find that balance and shoot when I'm open and find my
teammates when they are."
"Nash played like an MVP tonight," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson
said. "We had no answers for him. We tried every single thing
Limited to 15 points in Game 4, Stoudemire was more assertive
and collected 33 points and 18 rebounds. The All-Star center
made 10-of-17 shots - virtually all of them layups and dunks -
and 13-of-15 free throws.
"Amare was a little more assertive on the pick-and-rolls," Suns
coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "I guess they got tired of Steve
scoring every point and they make a move towards him and that is
when he gets it to Amare. It is Steve reading the situation
and Amare being aggressive."
Nash's rebounding also helped the Suns rediscover their running
game, which led to plenty of easy baskets. Phoenix had 16
fast-break points and 66 points in the paint.
"That number should be for three games," Johnson said.
"Sixty-six points in the paint is huge," Stoudemire said. "I
wanted to crash the boards and get a lot of fast-break points.
They went small on us and we took advantage of our height."
When Nash took a seat at the start of the fourth quarter,
Jackson moved into the unfamiliar role of point guard. The 6-6
swingman scored eight points in the first four minutes of the
period, helping Phoenix build an 87-79 lead.
"I am a playmaker. I played point guard in high school,
college, and in the NBA I am used to handling that ball a lot so
there are a lot of things I can do," Jackson said. "It is just
a matter of timing and when and if you can do it."
Jackson scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the
Suns, who can wrap up the series with a win Friday in Dallas.
Phoenix was the best road team in the NBA this season and is 3-1
on the road in the postseason.
had 34 points and 10 rebounds and Jerry Stackhouse
scored 29 points off the bench for fourth-seeded Dallas, which
saw its defense dissolve in the second half, allowing 66 points.
"We did not follow the game plan and they just shredded us
tonight - shredded us to pieces," Johnson said. "I am so
disappointed right now."
The Mavericks were able to keep Stoudemire under control for
most of the first half and opened a 55-48 lead. But in the
third quarter, Nowitzki and Josh Howard left briefly with
injuries and Nash scored 15 points as the Suns briefly took the
lead before settling for a 77-76 deficit entering the final
Jackson, who has been starting for the injured Joe Johnson
over at the point and scored four quick hoops around a
three-point play by Stoudemire to give Phoenix the lead for
"Jim Jackson has been hurting us the whole series," Avery
Johnson said. "He did it with Houston last year, Sacramento the
Dallas closed to 87-83 with 7:31 left on a basket by Jason Terry
, who had 17 points and eight assists. However, Stoudemire
scored inside, Nash converted a three-point play and Jackson
added a fast-break layup for a 94-83 bulge with 6:19 to go.
The Mavericks were unable to get a stop that mattered and got no
closer than five points thereafter. Stoudemire scored 10
points in the final six minutes.