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SUNS 114, MAVERICKS 108

Nash stays hot, helps Suns shine

PHOENIX -- Steve Nash added the most impressive night yet to his marvelous MVP season, leading the Phoenix Suns within one victory of the Western Conference finals.

Nash had 34 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists -- his third career triple-double and first in the playoffs -- and the Suns turned on the jets in a fourth-quarter outburst to beat the Dallas Mavericks, 114-108, last night.

Phoenix took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven conference semifinal series.

Jim Jackson, the 13-year NBA veteran moved into the starting lineup for the injured Joe Johnson, made seven of eight shots in the fourth quarter for 15 of his 21 points. Amare Stoudemire rebounded from his 15-point performance in Game 4 with 33 points and a career-playoff high 18 rebounds -- 21 points and 12 rebounds in the second half. Shawn Marion added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns.

''Nash played like an MVP tonight. We had no answers for him," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. ''We tried everything humanly possible."

Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, who led, 55-48, at the half. Jerry Stackhouse scored 29 points off the bench.

But no one on the Mavericks could match the energy and effectiveness of Nash, who came off a 48-point, but losing, effort in Game 4. This time, he scored, and did a lot of everything else, too.

He had 22 points in the second half and reached a triple-double midway through the third quarter.

''Obviously Nash still hurt us in the first half, but he was a monster in the second half," Johnson said. ''We came into tonight's game trying to cut off some of his passing angles. We did not follow the game plan, and they just shredded us, shredded us to pieces. I am so disappointed right now."

He was on the bench when Jackson made three baskets in a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter.

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