Suns whip Wizards for 14th straight win

41-point first quarter ignites Phoenix rout

Suns 127 Wizards 105

Pro basketball

January 24, 2007|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- As his Washington Wizards piled up points and victories, Gilbert Arenas had taken to calling the team "the Suns of the East."

But last night, the Wizards were mere understudies.

The "real" Phoenix Suns made the Wizards look like pretenders, building a 21-point first-quarter lead with near-flawless execution and cruising to a 127-105 win that extended their winning streak to 14.

The loss ended Washington's 10-game home winning streak and earned the Suns a measure of revenge.

On Dec. 22, Arenas scored 54 points and Washington used its highest output of the season to beat the Suns, 144-139, in overtime.

That game had been difficult for the Suns. Phoenix had seen its franchise-record, 15-game winning streak ended in front of its home fans. Prior to the game, the team had been stranded in Denver because of bad weather, missing practice time.

"I don't want to make excuses, but we had had a tough day," guard Steve Nash said last night.

This time, the Wizards couldn't run with the Suns. Led by Nash, the league's top-scoring team scored 41 first-quarter points and reached 100 before the third quarter was over.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said before the game that Washington's priority was to "contain the ball" and not allow Nash and the Suns' other athletic perimeter players to "break down" the Wizards on defense.

But it was easier said than done. Phoenix was credited with assists on nine of its first 10 field goals and 23 of its first 29, an indication that the Suns were beating defenders and making the extra pass for open jumpers. The Suns made six three pointers in the quarter and 13 overall.

The Wizards seemed to be backing off Nash, more content to let him shoot than to penetrate and dish to an inside cutter. But the two-time MVP made the Wizards pay, hitting his first eight shots and finishing with 27 points on 11 of 13 from the field.

The Suns burst out to leads of 20-8 and 41-20 and Washington could never close the gap to single digits after that.

"That's about as good as we can do," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said of a first half that saw the Suns shoot 67.4 percent.

The game had a playoff atmosphere, with a sellout crowd and "A-list" national media. But the Wizards can only hope this wasn't a harbinger of things to come.

"They came out on fire, hitting everything they threw up there," Arenas said. "They can't miss nothing. If you look on the TV they do the same thing to everyone else."

After being torched by Arenas last month, Phoenix coaches had written on the bulletin board before last night's game: "We can survive any amount of Arenas points if they come on jump shots. Keep him off the foul line."

Phoenix largely succeeded, holding Arenas to 6 of 8 from the line. Arenas missed five of his first six shots from the field but finished with 31 points.

"We all want home court [in the playoffs]," Nash said. "That's the race we're in now."

Nash had originally thought he might not shave his beard on this road trip because the Suns didn't want to tinker with a winning streak. But he showed up at the game clean-shaven. He said he's just not that superstitious.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.

Phoenix41352427-127

Washington20313024-105

PHOENIX-Diaw 7-12 0-2 14, Marion 9-11 3-3 21, Stoudemire 5-6 5-6 15, Bell 8-16 2-2 21, Nash 11-13 2-2 27, Barbosa 3-10 2-2 10, Ja.Jones 4-10 4-4 16, Ju.Jones 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 48-79 18-21 127. WASHINGTON-Butler 10-22 4-5 24, Jamison 2-8 4-4 9, Haywood 4-8 0-2 8, Stevenson 3-6 0-0 6, Arenas 11-25 6-8 31, Hayes 1-5 0-0 2, Daniels 8-9 2-2 20, Mason 0-2 0-0 0, E.Thomas 1-2 1-2 3, Taylor 1-2 0-0 2, Blatche 0-0 0-0 0, Booth 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 41-89 17-23 105. 3-point goals - Phoenix 13-33 (Ja.Jones 4-10, Nash 3-4, Bell 3-10, Barbosa 2-7, Ju.Jones 1-1, Marion 0-1), Washington 6-19 (Arenas 3-9, Daniels 2-2, Jamison 1-2, Butler 0-1, Hayes 0-1, Taylor 0-1, Stevenson 0-1, Mason 0-2). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Phoenix 45 (Bell 8), Washington 43 (Haywood 12). Assists - Phoenix 35 (Nash 14), Washington 14 (Arenas 5). Total fouls - Phoenix 19, Washington 18. Technicals-Phoenix coach M.D'Antoni, Stoudemire, Butler. A - 20,173. (20,173).

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