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Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - 10:00 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Suns end season-long losing streak

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PHOENIX (AP)

The way things have been going lately, the Phoenix Suns will gladly take a sputtering victory over Oklahoma City. The 106-95 win Saturday night lacked the impressiveness of Phoenix's 140-118 romp over the Thunder three weeks ago, but it was good enough to snap a six-game losing streak, the Suns' longest in four seasons. "We didn't have a great performance," Steve Nash said, "but we found a way to win in the fourth quarter, which is where we've been lacking the last two weeks." Leandro Barbosa scored 11 of his 22 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes. Nash added 18 points and eight assists for Phoenix but saw his career-best streak of seven 20-point games come to an end. Grant Hill added 16 points. The Suns' Jared Dudley had seven points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter as the Phoenix reserves breathed life into what had been a lackluster effort. Dudley finished with nine rebounds, five offensive. "LB (Barbosa) made a lot of big shots but if I was going to pick a player of the game I'd probably pick Jared Dudley," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "I just thought that he came in and gave us some energy. He made a couple of hustle plays and came up with a couple of loose balls. To me, that was kind of the thing that got us over the hump." Kevin Durant, back after missing seven games with a sprained right ankle, scored 22 and Russell Westbrook 20 for the Thunder, who led by 13 in the first half. "We turned it over just too many times - 22 times (actually 21). That's not going to get it done on the road," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "We should have played much better basketball. I'm real disappointed. We were just too sloppy at critical times in the game." Phoenix pulled within five games of Dallas for the final playoff spot in the West with 16 to play. Barbosa, who scored a career-high 41 in his last game against Oklahoma City, put the game away with three late 3-pointers. The last one put Phoenix up 101-91 with 2:14 to play. The open shots came with Oklahoma City's defense collapsing on Shaquille O'Neal, who found Barbosa outside. "When they doubled him it kind of was a good time for me because I was on a streak," Barbosa said. "He told me to be there because he was going to pass to me, and it worked well." Dudley's 3 ignited a 10-2 run that put Phoenix ahead for good, 85-80, on Goran Dragic's 3 from the top of the key with 8:25 to play. Jeff Green's two free throws cut the Suns' lead to 88-87 with 6:34 left, then Barbosa took over. The Brazilian sank a 16-footer, then followed with a pair of 3-pointer in an 8-0 Suns' run that put Phoenix ahead 96-87 with 4:11 left. The Thunder were 5-2 in his absence and led through the first half and much of the second in this one. Durant finished 9-for-10 shooting. "I felt good," Durant said. "I was a little winded at first, but when I got my second wind, I was all right. I wanted to play more, but I just have to easily get back into it. ... In the second half, I felt good. I was coming off screens and my ankle felt good. I was happy to be back out there." A soaring dunk by Green for a three-point play ignited a 9-1 spurt that gave Oklahoma City its biggest lead of the half, 48-35, on Nenad Krstic' 14-footer from the baseline as the shot clock expired with 3:02 to play. Hill's 14-footer gave Phoenix its first lead since the opening minutes, 70-68, with 56.3 seconds left in the third quarter, and Barbosa's two free throws with 2.8 seconds to play made it 72-69. But Kyle Weaver threw in a 40-footer at the buzzer to tie it at 72-72 entering the fourth quarter.

Notes

O'Neal was limited one point and one rebound in nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. ... Phoenix scored 18 points in the first quarter, 20 fewer than in the teams' previous meeting. ... The Suns swept the series 4-0 for the second straight season. ... The Thunder's Nick Collison returned after missing two games with a sore groin, scoring four points before fouling out in 22 1/2 minutes.
Tagged: Suns, Thunder

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