Suns win 5th straight, top Wizards 109-91
By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Still trying to mesh as a remodeled team, the Phoenix Suns needed a half to get going.
It was perfect timing. The Washington Wizards, right on cue, started hanging their heads. Or, as John Wall put it, “We just gave up pretty quickly.”
The Suns rallied from an 11-point first-quarter deficit Friday night and took control with a 3-point run in the third quarter. Channing Frye scored 25 points as Phoenix won its season-high fifth straight and moved within a game of .500 by beating Washington 109-91.
“At halftime, we were talking among ourselves as players,” said Grant Hill, who scored 12 points. “We were down one and back in the game after playing terrible. Let’s just come out and take care of business. We had a good third and just finished them out during the second half.
The Suns are still adjusting to a new dynamic following last month’s six-player trade with Orlando.
“We’re just starting to figure each other out and understanding as a team where we can find our stuff, where guys’ strengths are,” Hill said. “We’re playing unselfish, and we did a good job of playing defense, at least in the second half.”
Frye made 7 of 11 from 3-point range, including four of the Suns’ six 3-pointers during a third quarter in which Phoenix outscored Washington 31-18. Steve Nash had six of his 14 assists in the period and also finished with 17 points and five turnovers, the wily veteran holding his own against up-and-comer Wall.
The Suns (20-21) improved to 3-0 on their five-game road trip and moved within a game of break-even for the first time since Dec. 20, when they were 13-14. Marcin Gortat added 13 points and 14 rebounds.
“We’ve given away a lot of games already and had a lot of bad performances,” Nash said. “We’ve got to try to gain this momentum and ride it and see how much ground we can make up and then build on it, and hopefully become a better team so we can beat some of the good teams as well.”
The Wizards had a four-game home winning streak snapped. Every home game is precious for Washington, given its 0-20 record on the road, and Wall said the third quarter was like another trip away from the Verizon Center.
“Oh, yeah, it felt like a road game. We didn’t have no heart. We didn’t have no fight. We just gave up pretty quickly,” Wall said. “It was three- or four-point game when Channing Frye went off for five or six 3s in a row that changes the whole complexion of the game.”
Nick Young scored 25 points, but 20 were in the first half. Wall had 14 assists, but nine came in the first quarter. The Wizards had nearly as many turnovers (five) as field goals (six) in the third quarter.
“Offensively they make shots, and our heads go down,” coach Flip Saunders said. “And we forget how to play offensively, instead of just staying with the system.”
Young offered another theory for the offensive drought: The Suns claimed to know the Wizards’ play book.
“Grant Hill, he’s been watching film,” Young said. “He was telling me they were reading the plays every time we called it.”
NOTES: Wizards G Kirk Hinrich sprained his right elbow in the fourth quarter and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Boston. … Wizards F-G Josh Howard missed his eighth straight game with a sore left knee, but Saunders said the injury isn’t related to the major surgery Howard had on the same knee last season. “He’s got some tendinitis in it that has given him some pain,” said Saunders, who hopes to have Howard back for the four-game road trip that begins at the end of next week. “We don’t want to rush him into a situation where all of a sudden he’s shut down for the year.” … Arizona Sen. John McCain received some boos when he was shown on the scoreboard in the first half, but that didn’t deter him from being interviewed on the big screen at halftime. Among his thoughts: “Steve Nash is worth the price of admission” and “Somebody had better start guarding Mr. Young.” … The Wizards host the Celtics on Saturday to complete a rare back-to-back with both games at home, their first since Nov. 11-12, 2005. … Phoenix won its ninth in a row over Washington and its sixth straight at the Verizon Center, where the Suns haven’t lost since 2005.
Updated January 21, 2011