On Friday night, the Phoenix ended their homestand playing without veteran starters Steve Nash and Grant Hill. While early on in the game versus the New Jersey Nets it looked like the Suns could survive, they could not contain point guard Deron Williams or three-point shoot in general. The Nets hit 15 three-pointers and Williams lit up the Phoenix backcourt for 35 points (six three-pointers) and 14 assists, beating the Suns 110-103. It was Phoenix's third straight loss.
Hill was experiencing some soreness above his right knee and Nash had a sore quadriceps, the result of a "charley horse" he suffered against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With a five-game road trip starting on Sunday, the team felt that it made to give them both an extra day's rest in this condensed 66-game season.
Starting in their places were Ronnie Price and Shannon Brown.
The Suns started out decently and had a 25-22 lead after the first quarter, but the Nets outscored Phoenix each of the final three quarters. New Jersey had a three-point lead at the half and a six-point lead after three quarters.
What did Phoenix in was their defense, which has been a stronger point this season. It was the first game in this young season in which the Suns scored at least 100 points but lost.
With the game within reach for three quarters, they got cold in the fourth quarter and New Jersey built up a 12-point lead. The Suns were able to pull within three, 102-99, but couldn't get any more key stops.
For Phoenix, Marcin Gortat had a solid game, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Channing Frye scored 15, hitting a pair of threes. He also pulled down six boards and had a career-high seven assists. Ronnie Price, starting in place of Steve Nash, held his own. He had 18 points with eight assists on 7-11 shooting.
Jared Dudley scored 18 and Shannon Brown added 13 points.
New Jersey was paced by Williams' 35 points, but also got solid contributions from Marshon Brooks and Anthony Morrow. Brooks scored 20 and Morrow hit four threes, adding 16 points.
The two teams each had 35 rebounds and Phoenix had one more offensive board than the Nets.
Coach Alvin Gentry was pleased after the game with the offensive effort, but was obviously disappointed by the outcome. He gave a lot of credit to the Nets shooters, who made big shots. However, he was surprisingly upbeat about how the team played.
With the loss, the Suns fall to 4-7, while the Nets improve to 3-9. The Suns next play on Sunday in San Antonio.
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