Friday , Feb , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Nash, Suns crush Rockets as NBA heads to All-Star Weekend

=== Nash, Suns crush Rockets as NBA heads to All-Star Weekend ===

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Steve Nash registered 21 points, six rebounds
and eight assists to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 109-75 blowout over the
Houston Rockets at US Airways Center.

Shawn Marion donated 16 points and 12 rebounds and Raja Bell added 15 points,
10 boards and six assists for the Suns, who have won four straight and seven
of their last eight games. Eddie House added 16 points off the bench for
Phoenix.

“We understood that we had to come out and establish ourselves early and make
sure they knew we were here to play,” Bell said. “It’s easy to let down going
into the All-Star break, but we wanted to guard against that, and we did a
good job.”

Stromile Swift, who left the game with an injured right ankle late in the
fourth quarter, led the Rockets with 13 points, while Tracy McGrady added 10
points, all in the first half, for Houston. Yao Ming contributed six points
without a rebound for the Rockets, who had a three-game winning streak
snapped.

“We put nothing into the game,” Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “Give
them all the credit. I said this before the game, I never see them play
anything but well. They come out and play hard every night.”

Phoenix held Houston to just 30 percent shooting in the first half en route to
building a 63-31 lead at the break. Bell led the Suns with 15 points, Marion
added seven points and eight rebounds and Nash scored 14 points on 6-of-7
shooting.

Meanwhile, Houston struggled as McGrady shot just 4-for-13 in the half. Yao
was held scoreless through the first 24 minutes and Houston shot just 23.1
percent from beyond the arc.

Phoenix, which never trailed, outscored the Rockets 32-13 in the second
quarter after holding a 31-18 lead after the first frame.

Things only got worse for the Rockets in the second half and, after Boris
Diaw-Riffiod’s jumper with just over five minutes left in the third quarter,
the Suns’ lead moved to 41 at 88-47. A jumper by Pat Burke two minutes later
pushed the Suns’ lead to 95-49. Phoenix held a 98-53 lead after three
quarters.

A left-handed layup by Burke with about 10 1/2 minutes to play upped the
Suns’ lead to 102-55, and two free throws by House with just over two minutes
left in the contest pushed the Suns’ lead to 109-68.

It was the last NBA game before the All-Star break. Phoenix enters the break
with a 35-17 record, good enough for first place in the Pacific Division,
while Houston fell to 22-31 and is in last place in the Southwest Division.

Game Notes

The Rockets are 14-15 as the visitor this season and had a three-game road
winning streak snapped…The Suns have won two of three and six of the last
eight meetings in this series…Nash had six assists at halftime, equaling
Houston’s output as a team. Nash also eclipsed the 9,000-point barrier in the
first half…Phoenix shot 58.8 percent from beyond the arc in the first
half…The Suns largest margin of victory over Houston prior to Thursday’s
contest was a 123-93 win on April 19, 1998…The Suns’ halftime lead was
the largest in the NBA this season.

HOU PHO