Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns made Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards look more like pretenders than contenders, putting the so-called "Phoenix Suns of the East" in their place with a 127-105 thumping last night in Washington.
Nash scored 27 points on 11-for-13 shooting and added 14 assists in the Suns' 14th straight win. Phoenix led by 21 after the first quarter and won for the 30th time in 32 games in a matchup between the NBA's two highest-scoring teams.
"We know they're a good team, and we didn't want to underestimate them or have a lack of energy to start the game. That was, I think, our motivation," said Nash. "We respected how well they played at our place and we wanted to give them a better game."
Arenas, who has compared his team's high-octane offense with the Suns', scored 31 points, but he started 1 for 6 and the game was essentially over before he got going. When he finally made his second field goal, it only served to cut the Suns' lead to 24. The Wizards cut the lead to 13 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Suns responded with a 6-0 run to put the game firmly out of reach.
Shawn Marion finished with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting, and Raja Bell also had 21 points for the Suns, who were opening a five-game road trip.
Caron Butler added 24 points for the Wizards, who had won a
Nuggets 117, SuperSonics 112 -- The second night of Denver's experiment with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony together revealed a key supporting act.
Anthony scored 34 points in his second game back from suspension, Iverson added 21, and the Nuggets used two crucial 3-pointers from Steve Blake to beat the SuperSonics in Seattle.
It was Denver's fifth consecutive win, and second in two nights with its two superstars together at last.
Ray Allen scored 44 points -- 22 in a frantic final period -- and Chris Wilcox added 25 for Seattle. But Allen's missed 3-pointer in the last 20 seconds denied the Sonics their final chance at what would have been a season-best four-game winning streak. Allen was 6 for 17 from 3-point range, 5 for 8 in the fourth quarter.
Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer at 31.5 points per game entering last night, scored at least 30 for the fourth time in five games spanning his just-completed 15-game suspension for fighting during a December melee in New York.
Mavericks 111, Magic 95 -- Dirk Nowitzki had 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, and Josh Howard added 25 points to help Dallas beat host Orlando for its eighth straight victory.
For the second consecutive night, the Mavericks led from beginning to end. They pushed the margin to 25 points in the second quarter with a 15-5 run capped by Nowitzki's 3-point play, and kept it around 20 most of the second and third periods.
The Magic pulled closer in the third with a 13-4 run, but it happened with the defending Western Conference champions resting Nowitzki.
It was the closest the Magic had been since eight minutes into the first quarter, and aside from a quick basket to begin the fourth, it was the closest they would come.
Dallas rattled off 6 straight points, including a fast-break dunk from Nowitzki, to put the lead back at 14 and out of Orlando's reach.
76ers 102, Hornets 96 -- In Philadelphia, Kyle Korver scored 25 points, Andre Iguodala added 20, and the 76ers held on for the victory.
The Sixers got double-figure scoring from five players and opened their second half with a victory after going 11-30 over the first 41 games.
Devin Brown led the way for the Hornets with 24 points and David West added 23 in his third game back after missing 30 following shoulder surgery.
Clippers 115, Bucks 96 -- Elton Brand had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists to lead host Los Angeles over the injury-depleted Milwaukee. Brand, who scored 23 in the first half, finished 10 of 15 from the floor and 5 of 6 from the foul line as the Clippers won their third in a row. They handed the Bucks their fourth consecutive loss and ninth in 11 games.
Bulls 94, Hawks 86 -- Luol Deng scored 18 points and Kirk Hinrich added 12 points and 12 assists to lead the Bulls at home.
P.J. Brown scored a season-high 15 points and had nine rebounds for Chicago.