Wednesday , Feb , 22 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Phoenix will have to earn Pacific Division title

(Sports Network) – The Phoenix Suns (35-17) own a five-game lead over the
second place Los Angeles Clippers. They are scheduled to play 17 of their
final 30 games on the road, where they are a respectable 15-9.

Phoenix will play 21 of its final 30 contests against Western Conference
squads.

The Suns attempt to extend their winning streak to five games on Wednesday, as
they play their first game since the All-Star break against the Boston Celtics
at US Airways Center.

It is the second and final meeting of the season between the Suns and Celtics.
On February 1st, All-Star Shawn Marion led a balanced Phoenix attack with 21
points and 12 rebounds, as the Suns nearly blew a 21-point halftime lead
before beating Boston, 102-94, at TD Banknorth Garden. The Suns have won six
of the last eight meetings in this series. Boston has won two straight after
losing its last two at Phoenix.

Phoenix plays the middle contest of a three-game homestand versus Boston. Last
Thursday, reigning MVP Steve Nash finished with 21 points, six rebounds and
eight assists to lead the Suns to a 109-75 blowout victory over the Houston
Rockets at US Airways Center.

Marion ended with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Raja Bell added 15 points, 10
boards and six assists in the win over Houston for the Suns, who have won
seven of their last eight games overall. Eddie House added 16 points off the
bench for Phoenix.

The Suns, who have won three in a row at home, are 20-8 as the host this
season. They are scheduled to host the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday in the
finale of the stand.

Nash, who is averaging a league-best 11.0 assists per game, has scored in
double-digits in 15 straight games and has collected eight double-doubles in
that span. He is second on the team in scoring (19.4 ppg), behind Marion, who
is averaging team-highs in points (21.1 ppg) and rebounds (11.9 rpg).

Phoenix has scored over 100 points in 15 straight games and is 11-4 in that
span.

PHO