Wednesday , Dec , 13 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Suns burn Heat for 12th straight win

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Shawn Marion scored 23 points and grabbed 13
rebounds to lead the Phoenix Suns to their 12th straight win, 99-89, over
Miami.

The Heat, playing without Dwyane Wade, who had his wisdom teeth removed
on Tuesday, and Shaquille O’Neal, who is still recovering from knee surgery,
were still able to mount an impressive comeback late in the game, causing the
Suns to sweat out a game that appeared to have the makings of a blowout.

Alonzo Mourning led the Heat with 19 points, and Udonis Haslem contributed 14
points and seven rebounds. Jason Kapono scored 13 for Miami, which has lost
two of three. Robert Hite scored 11 points off of the bench, and Dorell Wright
added 10 points for Miami, which nearly rallied from a 25-point deficit in the
final quarter.

“We were trying to play hard until the end,” said Hite. “That is all you can
do.”

Steve Nash scored 18 points and added 11 assists, as the Suns pulled to within
two wins of the franchise-record 14-game streak from December 1992. Boris Diaw
scored 13 and pulled down 11 boards for the Suns. Amare Stoudemire had a quiet
night, scoring 12 points, and Phoenix received 10 points each from Leandro
Barbosa and James Jones.

The Suns have won 14 of their last 15 games after a 1-5 start. The Suns also
finished their road trip with a perfect 5-0 record, marking the first time
they’ve done that since April 6-13, 1998.

“I guess it is an accomplishment and something we should be proud of,” said
Nash of the winning streak, “but this team is really about building for the
playoffs.”

The game was a laugher early in the fourth quarter, as a Diaw hook shot put
Phoenix up 88-63 with 9:52 left in regulation, the Suns’ largest lead of the
game. Miami rallied without its two biggest stars, though, ripping off 17
straight points to make things interesting late in the game. After a Barbosa
lay-in with 3:39 left, Chris Quinn hit an acrobatic layup, and Kapono drilled
a three to bring the Heat to within 90-85 with 2:38 remaining, capping a 22-2
run that brought the crowd to its feet.

The miraculous comeback was not to be, however, as Nash answered with a three
to extend the Phoenix lead to 93-85, and the Suns held on down the stretch for
the win.

The Suns had boosted their already large lead in the third quarter. Marion
followed a Barbosa jumper with a steal of a Gary Payton pass, which he then
converted into an alley-oop dunk from a Nash feed that put Phoenix up 80-55
with 4:19 left in the third. The Heat trailed entering the fourth quarter
84-63.

The Suns started quick, dropping a 10-2 run on the Heat in the game’s first
three minutes. A Nash jumper put the Suns up 20-10 with 5:23 left in the first
quarter, and Phoenix led 26-19 going into the second quarter.

Miami was able to cut the Phoenix lead to five on a Haslem basket that made it
30-25 just under two minutes into the second quarter, but the Suns responded
with 13 straight to blow the game open. Raja Bell, Barbosa, and Jones all hit
threes on the streak, and two Stoudemire free throws gave Phoenix a 43-25 lead
with 6:41 left. The Suns led 56-40 at halftime.

Game Notes

The Suns’ 12-game wining streak is tied with Dallas’ 12-game streak for the
longest in the NBA this season…Phoenix is now 8-0 against Eastern Conference
teams… The 99-point output represented the first time Phoenix was held under
100 points on the road this season…Mourning’s 19 points were a season-
high… Miami hit only 4-of-19 from behind the three-point line.

PHO MIA