Suns 108, Cavaliers 100
The Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers both needed wins. The Suns can relax temporarily, the Cavaliers still are desperate.
The Suns ended a three-game losing streak and won for only the fourth time in 15 games as Jared Dudley came off the bench to score 21 points, Steve Nash had 20 points and 17 assists, and Phoenix handed the undermanned Cavaliers their 10th consecutive loss, 108-100 Sunday night.
Phoenix's point total marked the first time in five games the usually high-scoring Suns had reached 100 points. The loss was the 20th in 21 games and the 16th in a row on the road for the Cavaliers.
Phoenix, which has been a perennial playoff team in recent years, now is only 15-20 with a lackluster 9-9 home record. Cleveland is an NBA-worst 8-29.
''We needed to get a win,'' Dudley said. ''I don't care who it was against - the Lakers, the Clippers. It didn't matter.''
The Suns trailed throughout the first half but finally took the lead for good 93-90 on a 3-pointer by Nash with 6:41 remaining.
Vince Carter added 19 points for Phoenix, Channing Frye had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Robin Lopez scored 15 points.
Rookie Manny Harris scored a season-high 27 points for Cleveland. J.J. Hickson had 23 points and career-high 17 rebounds, and Antawn Jamison also scored 23.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry was thankful for the win - any way the Suns could get it.
''I've been in the league a long time and there are no bad wins,'' he said. ''I haven't had a bad win in 23 years. We just needed a win in any kind of way.''
Nash also was pleased.
''We just needed to find a way to win a game,'' Nash said. ''It was hard for us. We found a way to scrap and win and sometimes that's what you've got to do.
''At times, our team was not confident, we dropped our heads and tonight we just fought through it. This was just a game where we had to find a way to win.''
Harris, an unheralded rookie from Michigan playing in only his 15th game, nearly matched his season high of 16 points with 15 in the first half as the Cavaliers led at intermission 52-51.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott said he was pleased with his team's gritty effort, but inexperience cost the Cavs in the final period.
''It was the fourth quarter, the last few minutes we just seemed to, I wouldn't say fall apart, but we do something that we just can't do,'' Scott said. ''That's lack of experience from some guys, but other than that I'm very proud and very happy how well we played.''
Jamison also blamed the Cavaliers' downfall on poor fourth-quarter execution.
''We continue to play positive basketball, but we have those lulls,'' he said. ''We take bad shots or costly turnovers or miscommunication defensively and once again tonight, down the stretch when we really needed we were unable to be consistent for the whole 48 minutes.''
The Suns basically won the game from long range, connecting on 13-of-28 3-point shots, to 6 of 20 for Cleveland. They also held the Cavaliers to two offensive rebounds in the second half, after getting beaten in the first half.
Cleveland, beating the Suns at their own game, outscored Phoenix 18-3 on fast-break points during the first two periods. They also led the Suns 38-24 in points in the paint, after grabbing 10 offensive rebounds.
Harris and Hickson were the Cavs' dominant players during that stretch when Cleveland never trailed. Harris also had six rebounds and Hickson, replacing injured Anderson Varejao, had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Phoenix's two big men, Frye and Lopez, combined to keep the Suns close. Frye had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the first half and Lopez contributed 12 points.
Nash did his usual job of distributing the ball, handing out 11 assists in the first half, but made only two of seven shots.
The Suns finally took the lead in the third quarter, building an eight-point advantage, 79-71, after eight consecutive points by Dudley. But they failed to hit a field goal in the final 2:40 and Cleveland rallied to tie it at 81 at the end of the period. The Suns' 30-point quarter was the first time they had reached that total in 21 periods.
The injury-riddled Cavaliers learned Sunday that Varejao, their starting center, could be lost for the season with a complete tear of his right ankle, an injury sustained during a routine conditioning drill. Besides Varejao, the Cavs were missing Joey Graham (right quad strain), Daniel Gibson (left ankle sprain), Leon Powe (right torn meniscus) and Anthony Parker (lower back strain).
The Suns also lost a key player when Grant Hill sustained a right knee sprain early in the first quarter when he collided with Harris under the Phoenix basket.
NOTES: When the Cavs had LeBron James, they swept the Suns in each of the past two seasons. ... Cleveland's last victory was Dec. 18 against New York, 109-102 in overtime. Their last win in regulation was Nov. 27 against Memphis, 92-86. ... Cleveland's last road victory was Nov. 9 at New Jersey, 93-91. ... Hill is averaging more than 14 points per game, his highest scoring average since joining the Suns four years ago.