Tuesday , Mar , 07 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Suns win 11th straight, but Nash hurts ankle

Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) – Boris Diaw had 20 points, 12 rebounds and
six assists to lead the Phoenix Suns to their 11th straight win, 101-88,
against the Hornets at the Ford Center.

Shawn Marion added 19 points and 16 boards and Raja Bell had 17 points for
Phoenix, which rallied from a 14-point deficit to score the 13-point win.
However, the Suns finished the game without reigning MVP Steve Nash, who
left the contest late in the third quarter after turning his right ankle.

David West had 22 points and eight boards and Chris Paul had 14 points and 11
assists for the Hornets, who scored just nine points in the final quarter to
fall for the third straight time.

After Rasual Butler gave the Hornets an 81-79 lead early in the fourth
quarter, the Suns went on a 16-3 run to take control. Leandro Barbosa drained
a pair of threes to end the surge, giving the Suns a 95-84 advantage.

The Hornets got within nine points, 97-88, on a Butler free throw with 1 1/2
minutes left, but that would be the last point for the team the rest of the
way.

Barbosa ended with 15 points, getting the bulk of the action in the second
half after Nash left.

“We didn’t take advantage of Steve Nash leaving the game,” said West. “We
acted like things were going to change because he left the game. Their team is
built to get up and down the floor with or without him.”

Nash finished with 12 points and seven assists.

The Hornets led 33-30 after one quarter and extended that lead to 61-49 at
halftime. During the second, the Hornets grabbed their largest lead, 46-32, on
an Aaron Williams bucket a little less than midway through the frame.

The third quarter saw the Suns come out on fire, scoring 14 of the first 15
points to take a 63-62 lead. Diaw had five points during the run, but the
Hornets still rallied to go into the fourth with a 79-71 cushion.

“We stayed within reach in the first half,” said Marion. “In the second half
we started putting the clamp down on them and the shots that they were hitting
in the first half weren’t falling in the second.”

Game Notes

Phoenix has won two straight and seven of the last eight against the
Hornets…The Suns improved to 18-9 on the road…The Hornets fell to 19-10
when playing as the home team…On Wednesday night, the Hornets will make
their long-awaited return to New Orleans, playing in the Big Easy for the
first time since April 20, 2005. They will take on the Los Angeles Lakers.

PHO NOH