Suns cap perfect trip with 114-102 win over Kings
SACRAMENTO – Less than three weeks ago, the Phoenix Suns came home from a four-game road trip empty-handed and discouraged. The mood around the team is much different after this four-game trip.
Steve Nash had 23 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds to help the Phoenix Suns complete a perfect road trip with a 114-102 victory over the struggling Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
“It’s fun,” Nash said. “It’s hard work. It’s difficult to win games, but it pays off. It’s a lot of fun, especially on nights like tonight when you get up, go on a 22-3 run on the road at the end of a trip. It’s rewarding.”
Amare Stoudemire added 30 points and nine rebounds for the Suns, who last swept a road trip of at least four games in December 2006.
Before this trip, the Suns had lost five straight away from home, including all four games on one trip last month. Then they ripped off wins in Houston, New Orleans, Denver and Sacramento. Phoenix has a season-long five-game winning streak after losing seven of its previous nine games.
“We played well on the road early on, then we were atrocious on the road,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “To get back playing well at this stage is really great for us. It’s really tough to win on the road in this league. Everything has to go right for you and you have to play at a really high level for 48 minutes.”
After a promising start to the season, the Kings have lost 17 of 19 games. This one wasn’t even competitive, as they never cut the deficit below 10 points after late in the first quarter.
Donte Green scored a career-high 31 points to lead Sacramento. Omri Casspi added 17 and Tyreke Evans had 13. Kevin Martin was held to five points on 2 for 9 shooting. Martin is shooting just 35.6 percent since returning from a left injury last month and Sacramento has lost 11 of 12 games since his return to the lineup.
“I don’t know what it is,” Martin said. “It’s not me out there. I’ve never been in a situation like this before.”
Jason Richardson added 16 points for the Suns, who have topped 100 points in 11 straight games and 23 of 24.
The Kings showed signs of life early in the third quarter, cutting what had been a 21-point lead down to 10 on a three-point play by Casspi.
But Nash took over the game after a timeout. He hit a 3-pointer, threw an alley-oop to Stoudemire and then fed Stoudemire for an emphatic dunk that quickly built the lead back to 17. The Suns didn’t stop there, going on a 22-3 run to go up 92-63 late in the third. The Kings fans booed the team off the court during a timeout after a breakaway layup by Goran Dragic made it a 29-point game.
“We came out and we were aggressive,” Stoudemire said. “We had a couple of big plays there to get our momentum back and we just took off from there.”
It was garbage time the rest of the way. Nash played only sparingly over the final 15 minutes, missing a chance for his fourth career triple-double and first since April 19, 2006.
The Suns started off quickly, going on an 11-0 run behind a pair of 3-pointers from Nash and one from Grant Hill. After Evans went to the bench with his third foul just 7:20 into the game, the Suns really opened the game up, taking a 39-23 lead in the final minute of the quarter following a 3-pointer from Jared Dudley and a technical foul on Kings coach Paul Westphal that Nash converted.
“The first-quarter barrage put us on our heels for the whole game,” Westphal said. “They came out and took care of business, especially Nash and (Robin) Lopez. We never really got back into the game.”
The Kings were called for another technical foul in the second quarter, when Andres Nocioni got called while jockeying for position on a jump ball. Nash made that one and Richardson followed with a 3-pointer after Phoenix won the tip to make it 50-31 midway through the second.
NOTES: Hill left the game in the first quarter after crashing hard to the ground on a layup attempt. He returned in the second quarter. … Evans went to the locker room in the second quarter after being hit in the mouth, causing bleeding. He returned a few minutes later. … Kings starting forward Jason Thompson missed his second straight game because of a family funeral.
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