Suns clinch Pacific Division title
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Raja Bell led a balanced attack with 22 points and Steve Nash had another strong effort with 18 points and 11 assists, as the Suns secured their third consecutive Pacific Division title with a 108-90 pounding of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Leandro Barbosa tallied 20 points and Shawn Marion added 12 points and 10 boards for Phoenix, which snapped a two-game skid.
"This is a piece of the puzzle," Bell said of the division title. "It means we’ve had a good regular season, and positioned ourselves well for the playoffs. But the ultimate goal is winning a championship, so we know we have a lot of work to do."
The Suns won for the seventh time in nine games despite Amare Stoudemire, who was in foul trouble, being held to four points in 21 minutes.
The Suns finished 16-of-38 from three-point range, including a 6-of-9 effort from Bell.
Kevin Garnett continued to carry Minnesota with 30 points and 16 rebounds, but the Timberwolves lost for a third straight time. Craig Smith had 14 points and Mike James 13 for Minnesota, which lost its 11th consecutive road game.
The Timberwolves are 2 1/2 games behind Golden State for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"For some reason we just went our separate ways for the last few minutes of the game," Garnett said. "I don’t know, we just had a meltdown. Sixty six games into it, you would think we would know by now."
James’ three-pointer pulled the Timberwolves within 68-63 with 4:43 left in the third, but the Suns pulled away by scoring the next 14 points. Bell started the flurry with a three and another jumper.
It was 84-67 going into the fourth and Minnesota never made it close.
Boris Diaw had 11 points and nine assists for the Suns.
Mark Blount ended with 10 points and 11 boards for Minnesota.
Phoenix led 25-22 after one quarter and was ahead by as many as 16 in the second before settling for a 51-47 edge at the half. Minnesota finished the second quarter on a 16-4 run.
A jumper by Ricky Davis tied the game at 58 early in the third, but the Suns responded with 10 consecutive points. Bell led the home team with 16 points in the third quarter after shooting 1-of-6 from the field in the first half.
"I think it was time for us to play basketball," Barbosa said of the third quarter. "We didn’t play basketball in the first and second quarters, which wasn’t good. We did a much better job in the third quarter."
The Suns went 2-of-4 at the foul line, compared to 18-of-21 for Minnesota…Phoenix is 25-1 when holding its opponent under 100 points this season.
03/21 02:35:31 ET