Friday , Jan , 12 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Nash leads red-hot Suns over Cavs

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Steve Nash dished out a season-high 21 assists,
helping Phoenix to its eighth straight win, a 109-90 rout of the Cavaliers,
and snapping Cleveland’s five-game victory streak.

Nash shot just 2-of-7 from the floor for four points in 30 minutes, but the
All-Star guard was dominating in running the Suns’ offense, as they won at
home over the Cavaliers for the eighth consecutive time.

Shawn Marion led the way with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, while
Amare Stoudemire tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds. Raja Bell scored 18 and
Leandro Barbosa came off the bench for 16 for Phoenix, which used a huge
second quarter to pull away.

LeBron James had a game-high 34 points on 15-of-28 shooting for the Cavaliers,
but he didn’t get any support from his teammates. Drew Gooden added 11 points
for Cleveland, which shot 37.9 percent from the field.

Stoudemire’s jumper capped a string of six straight Phoenix points for a 20-16
Suns lead, and the cushion stood at 33-26 going into the second. That’s when
Nash took over the game.

Not only was this Nash’s second 20-assist game of the season (20 vs.
Sacramento on December 5), but he also tied Kevin Johnson’s a franchise record
with 14 in the opening half. With Nash’s help, the Suns didn’t register their
first turnover until 2:27 left in the opening half. Nash finished with one
turnover.

When the buzzer sounded to end the first half Nash and Co. led 67-41, courtesy
of a 19-point run that saw the Suns sizzle. James’ jumper had the Cavs within
46-39 with 5:35 left until halftime, but Nash had six assists the remainder of
the quarter, including four over the final 1:18.

Boris Diaw’s jumper, off an assist from Nash, capped the 19 unanswered points
for the 65-39 lead with under a minute left in the half.

Even though it took the Suns nearly four minutes to score in the third
quarter, the game was a rout. Marion’s two foul shots at the end of the
quarter made it 91-59 and the Suns gave their bench players plenty of court
time in the final 12 minutes.

Game Notes

Nash is the first NBA player to record multiple 20-assist games in the same
season since Spurs guard and current Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson in
1997-98…Phoenix has won seven of the last nine meetings…Johnson had 14
assists in the first half of a game against Boston on February 12, 1997…This
was Nash’s third game with at least 20 assists…James Jones scored 13 for
the Suns, who dominated points in the paint by a 48-18 margin and on
the fastbreak (34-3)…The Suns have won 15 of their last 16 at
home…Phoenix is 34-4 versus at home versus the Eastern Conference since
the start of the 2004-05 season. They are 15-1 overall versus the East
this season…James had Cleveland’s first 14 points in the fourth quarter.

CLE PHO