Wednesday , May , 31 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Suns win with offense

(Sports Network) – Phoenix won a game that it had to have, as
the Suns knocked off the Dallas Mavericks, 106-86, at US Airways Center in
Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. The series is tied at two games
apiece.

Leandro Barbosa was 10-for-13 from the floor and finished with a game-high 24
points in 33-plus minutes of action, while reigning MVP Steve Nash scored 21
and dished out seven assists in Game 4’s victory for the Suns.

The second-seeded Suns shot an impressive 54.4 (43-for-79) percent from the
field, including 46.7 percent (7-for-15) from beyond the arc. The held Dallas
to 41.8 percent (33-of-79) from the floor and forced the fourth-seeded
Mavericks into committing 14 turnovers.

“Everybody did a great job tonight, everybody came out and played defense
tonight,” said Phoenix forward Shawn Marion after Game 4’s win. “That was the
difference. We knocked down some shots and played Suns offense. Our offense
was working and everybody was getting good looks. Everybody was making the
extra pass and thats what Suns basketball is. When we’re doing a lot of one
on one, it takes away everything we’re trying to do. Everybody was patient and
we were moving that ball and getting good looks.

Marion finished with 15 points and eight boards in the win, while Boris Diaw
continued his impressive playoff run with 20 points, nine rebounds and four
assists.

Phoenix got a big lift in Game 4, as Raja Bell returned to the lineup from a
calf injury. Bell was hurt in Game 1 of the set and did not play in Games 2
and 3, which were both won by the Mavericks. The 29-year-old Bell, who is the
Suns best perimeter defender, contributed nine points, four rebounds and three
assists in 30-plus minutes of court time.

Bell was limited with his movements because of the injury, but his presence
gave the Suns an emotional lift and was a big help on the defensive end of the
court.

“The one thing I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do today was really explode
off the left leg,” said Bell. “That was the part of the problem coming into
the game, and they weren’t really confident. So I tried to stay away from
situations like that. And I kind of forgot that it was injured at that point.
And more than pull it, it just hurt a lot. So I think I avoided a bullet there
so to speak because if I had really tried to jump, it might have hurt a little
bit more.”

All-Star Dirk Nowitzki struggled in Game 4’s loss for Dallas, as he ended with
just 11 points and seven rebounds. He was 3-for-13 from the floor and played
a little over 33 minutes.

“I thought they just played a lot more aggressive than we did,” said Nowitzki
after Game 4’s loss. “I still had some looks that I usually make, but, like I
said, they were the aggressors, both ends of the floor. Made a lot of
defensive errors that we gotta correct until Thursday, and then we’ll go from
there.”

The Suns have scored over 100 points in both of their wins in the series,
while they did not reach the century mark in their two losses. Bottom line,
when the Suns play their tempo and score a lot of points, they win.

Dallas is more of a complete team than Phoenix. However, the Suns know that
they can lure the Mavericks into a shootout and that works to their favor.

DAL PHO