Saturday , Mar , 04 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Marion alley-oops Suns to ninth straight win

=== Marion alley-oops Suns to ninth straight win ===

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Shawn Marion scored 24 points, including a
pair of alley-oop dunks in the final minute, as Phoenix rallied from a five-
point deficit with under four minutes remaining to beat Orlando, 123-118, at
US Airways Center.

Tim Thomas scored a season-high 20 points, including 5-of-8 beyond the arc, in
his debut with Phoenix, which won its league-leading ninth straight game.
Steve Nash notched 18 points and 13 assists, while Boris Diaw posted 18
points 11 assists and nine rebounds. Leandro Barbosa scored 17 points, and
Raja Bell added 11.

Jameer Nelson, who hadn’t played since January 20th after suffering a sprained
right foot, scored 24 points to pace Orlando, which lost its fourth straight.
Carlos Arroyo scored a season-high 21 points, while Hedo Turkoglu had 20.
Dwight Howard netted 15 points, and Keyon Dooling added 12.

“We didn’t execute at the end of the game and we didn’t control the ball or
the tempo like we did throughout the game,” Nelson said. “With myself and
Carlos out there pushing it and finding each other, it makes it a lot easier.”

A Darko Milicic jumper extended Orlando to a 116-111 lead with 3:51 left.

Bell hit one foul shot 45 seconds later and Nash converted a pair of free
throws with 1:56 left to make the score 116-114. After a free throw by Diaw
with 1:19 left, Nash threw an alley-oop pass from beyond the arc to Marion for
a slam with 56.1 seconds on the clock and a one-point Phoenix lead.

After Turkoglu missed a jumper on the ensuing possession, Nash again lobbed an
alley-oop pass to Marion – this time on a fast break with 30.2 seconds on the
clock.

Marion swatted a Dooling layup try with 16.4 seconds left, and Nash converted
a pair of free throws with 10.8 seconds remaining to give Phoenix a 121-116
lead. Arroyo scored a quick layup with 5.3 seconds on the clock, but Nash
scored another pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left to seal the win.

“Orlando played really well and they were making a lot of shots,” Phoenix
coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But we shut them down in the last three minutes and
they only made on field goal and that was the turning point. We turned it on
and Shawn [Marion] had some really big blocks.”

Phoenix got down early, but finished the first quarter on a 13-2 spurt capped
by a turnaround jumper by Thomas with 24 seconds left, and led 27-19 heading
into the second.

Orlando outscored Phoenix by six points during the second quarter to cut its
halftime deficit to 58-56. In the third quarter, Orlando again outscored
Phoenix by six points, to take a 96-92 lead into the fourth.

The Suns, who won nine in a row earlier this season from November 22 to
December 9, played the second of a brief two-game homestand. Phoenix is 24-8
at home this season. The Suns have won seven in a row as the host.

Orlando played the third of a five-game road trip. The Magic, who lost to the
Lakers 102-87 in the opener of the swing, are a brutal 6-24 on the road this
season. They are scheduled to visit the Denver Nuggets on Saturday at the
Pepsi Center and the Utah Jazz on Monday at the Delta Center in the finale of
the trip.

Game Notes

Thomas, who was waived by Chicago on Wednesday, played in only three games
with the Bulls this season after being acquired by the team from the Knicks in
the deal that landed center Eddy Curry in New York…This was the second and
final meeting of the season between the clubs. On January 24th, Howard
recorded 22 points and 12 rebounds, as the Magic defeated the Suns, 111-102,
at the TD Waterhouse Centre…The Suns have won six of the last eight meetings
in this series…Orlando has lost four straight after winning its
last two at Phoenix.

PHO ORL