Suns 108, Cavaliers 83

The Phoenix Suns made a statement early on against

Cleveland.

The Suns, one of the NBA’s hottest teams, scored the game’s

first 12 points and never trailed in rolling to a 108-83 victory

over the Cavaliers on Sunday.

Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris scored 22 points apiece, while

Steve Nash added 13 assists. Phoenix has won six of eight to get

back into the Western Conference playoff race. The Suns improved to

11-4 since the All-Star break and are one game behind Denver for

the final playoff spot in the West.

”This was, by far, the best ball movement we’ve had this

year,” said Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry. ”We got off to a great

start, but I thought we played well for the whole 48 minutes.”

Gortat scored the game’s first 10 points, including two dunks

and three layups.

”It was cool,” he said. ”It’s always fun when you’re rolling

like that. I could have had an easy 30 if I had executed better. My

teammates found me, and I was happy I had some post-ups

today.”

Cleveland has lost six of seven, leading coach Byron Scott to a

simple conclusion.

”We’re not a very good team right now,” he said. ”That’s the

bottom line. It’s like we were almost sleepwalking.”

Rookie Kyrie Irving scored 16 points for Cleveland, which was

never in the game after cutting the lead to 33-31 in the second

quarter. Phoenix scored the next nine points to regain control and

led 59-38 at halftime. The Cavaliers never got closer than 15 in

the second half and the Suns’ biggest lead was 106-78 in the

closing minutes.

”We were setting good screens and, of course, having such a

great point guard like Steve Nash makes us look better,” Gortat

said.

Gortat, who was 10 of 16 from the field, had his way with

Cavaliers rookie center Tristan Thompson.

”He ate us alive,” Scott said. ”I don’t know if Tristan

didn’t know that much about him or if he didn’t realize that the

guy is a pretty good player. Gortat has been playing well all

season long.”

Nash, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter, finished with four

points and made his only two shots from the field in 29 minutes. He

didn’t attempt a shot until hitting a layup with 31 seconds left in

the second quarter.

Nash had eight assists in the first half, matching Cleveland’s

team total for the first two quarters. The 16-year veteran recorded

his 31st double-figure assist game of the season and leads the

league in that category. Nash matched his season high with 17

assists Friday against Milwaukee.

”He’s so effective on the offensive end,” Irving said. ”At

times he’s a scorer and then he’ll find the open man. He’s one of

the best for a reason and he’s done it year after year.”

Morris, who had a career high in points, shot 9 of 12. Brown

added 16 points for the Suns, who shot 51.2 percent for the

game.

Irving has averaged 21 points in two games against the Suns this

season.

”He doesn’t play like a rookie,” Gentry said. ”I heard he

turned 20 years old (Friday). That’s frightening because I have

suits older than he is.”

Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison, who sustained a bruised left

leg and ankle in the first quarter, finished with a season-low two

points. He was injured while battling Gortat for a rebound. The

players fell to the floor, with Gortat landing on Jamison’s leg.

Jamison was on the floor for several minutes clutching his leg, but

walked to the locker room on his own.

Jamison, Cleveland’s second-leading scorer with an 18.4 average,

returned in the second quarter. Jamison had his lowest point total

since being held scoreless on Jan. 13, 2006 against Indiana while

playing for Washington.

Omri Casspi scored 14 points for Cleveland.

The Cavaliers climbed back into the Eastern playoff race earlier

this month with a three-game winning streak, including back-to-back

road victories against Denver and Oklahoma City. Cleveland has

struggled since then, with four of its six losses coming by double

figures.

”We can’t play the rest of the season with peaks and valleys,”

Irving said. ”We beat really good teams by playing hard for 48

minutes. We haven’t been doing that in the last few games.”

NOTES: Nash has had 17 assists four times this season. …

Phoenix finished 2-2 on its four-game road trip and is 10-14 away

from home. … The Suns host San Antonio on Tuesday. … Cavaliers

G Daniel Gibson missed his third straight game with a sprained left

ankle. … F Luke Walton scored his first points with Cleveland

since being acquired from the Lakers on March 15 with a basket in

the second quarter. He finished with seven points.