Suns 116, Nets 105
Sluggish for two quarters, explosive the next one.
The Phoenix Suns still pile up the points, and on Wednesday night they rang up far too many for the NBA's lowest-scoring team to keep up.
Steve Nash had 24 points and 14 assists, Jason Richardson scored 23 points, and the Suns ran their winning streak to nine games by beating the New Jersey Nets 116-105.
Amare Stoudemire had 15 points and three reserves were in double figures for the Suns, who hit all six 3-point attempts in a 38-point third quarter that turned around the game.
``Tonight we just didn't have the legs in the first half. Mentally as well,'' Nash said. ``We were tired from a tough game last night. So we stayed in the game in the first half basically and then played well in the second half.''
Phoenix, on its longest win streak since winning a franchise-record 17 in a row during the 2006-07 season, came in one game out of second place in the Western Conference. The Suns, who clinched a playoff spot Tuesday, finished 12-2 in March and are an NBA-best 18-4 since the All-Star break.
``And we've gone from fifth to fourth. Well, tied for fourth,'' Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. ``I think we've been playing great, it's just usually if you have a run like that, you put yourself in a pretty good situation and you have separation. And the only one we've separated ourselves from is the fact that we're going to make the playoffs.''
Terrence Williams scored 21 points and Brook Lopez had 19 for New Jersey, which had won three of four, ensuring it wouldn't finish with a share of the NBA's worst record. Courtney Lee and Kris Humphries each added 17.
``I thought that we played hard but we lost a little bit of focus for a couple of minutes, and that's just enough for this team,'' Nets interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said.
The Suns came in as the NBA's top-scoring team with 110.5 points per game, nearly 20 per game better than the Nets' average. New Jersey kept up for a half before Phoenix showed off all its offensive weapons.
Trailing by three after looking ordinary in the first half on the second night of a back-to-back, the Suns ran off the first 13 points of the third quarter. Richardson, Nash, and Richardson again hit three straight 3-pointers during the spurt, which gave Phoenix a 63-53 lead.
``They came out guns blazing,'' Nets guard Devin Harris said. ``They got into transition. They got some easy looks. All night long they shot the 3 incredibly well. When they do that, they're tough to beat.
``You know they're going to make runs. They just made one at the beginning of the third quarter. There is no way we can challenge them when they put up 38 in a quarter. I thought we played they pretty well in three quarters but they got too much of a head start in the third quarter.''
Jared Dudley hit two 3-pointers late in the period, the second increasing the lead to 15 before the Suns took an 88-76 advantage to the fourth. They shot 67 percent overall in the period.
``The third quarter, they came out like a playoff team,'' Williams said.
New Jersey got within five early in the fourth quarter before Phoenix quickly regained command.
Nash said following Tuesday's victory in Chicago that he was dealing with a bad back and a cold, but there was nothing slowing him or the Suns down after halftime. Phoenix shot 57 percent from the field for the game and made 11 of 18 3-pointers (61 percent).
The bad back this time belonged to Harris, who shot only 2 for 10 and had his back wrapped when he came out in the third quarter. He said he fell on a photographer's knee in a recent game but is expected to play Saturday against New Orleans.
Dudley finished with 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting, Channing Frye scored 12 and Goran Dragic had 11.
The game was tied at 23 after one quarter, then reserves Williams (10 points) and Humphries (nine) helped the Nets score 30 points on 65 percent shooting in the second to take a 53-50 lead into the half. Phoenix had seven turnovers in the period and 10 in the first half.
NOTES: There was no Lopez vs. Lopez matchup because Suns center Robin Lopez, Brook's twin brother, is still out resting a bad back. ... Yi Jianlian and Richardson both missed dunks in the third quarter. ... Williams matched his career high.