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Nash-less Suns Blow Early Lead, Fall 109-97 To Hornets

Like a number of games this season, this started out swell for the Phoenix Suns in the first quarter, only to be looking backwards by the end of it. Phoenix led by as many as 10 points in the first behind Grant Hill's hot shooting and Marcin Gortat's early inside offense. But, in what was a game of scoring runs, the New Orleans Hornets closed out the quarter on an 18-7 run that put Phoenix down by one.

The team, playing without a resting Steve Nash, didn't do much to compensate in the second quarter but kept things relatively close. But after the halftime intermission, things went downhill. The Suns started out the third quarter giving up an 8-0 run, and the fourth by giving up a 7-0 run and that was about it. Though Phoenix mustered up some minor runs of their own across the second half, they never pulled closer than four the rest of the way.

In what has become a tradition in the Nash years, the Suns allowed another career night from an opponent: The Hornets were powered by such a night from Willie Green, who made a franchise-record 12 straight field goals before missing his last five to finish with a game-leading 31 points. Trevor Ariza helped out with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and Chris Paul had "only" seven points and 12 assists.

Jared Dudley led Phoenix with 18 points and seven rebounds, but everyone knows that when Dudley leads the team in scoring, it means bad things for the Suns. He did, however, get his tenth dunk of the year, a feat he promised to achieve just prior to the game. So that's good. Starting for Nash, Aaron Brooks had nine points and nine assists in his further audition for a place on next year's roster.

While the Suns weren't abysmal offensively, they were pretty abysmal defensively, allowing the Hornets to shoot 56% from the field and 53% from three.

The Phoenix Suns must win all of their three remaining games to finish at .500. Should they not accomplish that, it will be the first time the team finished with a losing record since the Nash-less 2003-2004 season.