If you're a Suns fan watching this one on DVR after the fact, you might be able to save yourself a little time by skipping straight to the fourth quarter and starting from there. That's when the Suns got serious about winning, and took control on both ends of the floor. Raja Bell started things off with his own personal 8-0 run that included a jumper, a three-point play, and a three-pointer to close what had been a nine-point deficit down to one. Moments later, Steve Nash re-entered the game and started putting on an MVP-like clinic. He sank three-point daggers, made jumpers, found teammates for easy baskets through the tiniest cracks in the defense, and cashed in on free throws when the Bucks resorted to fouling him. But Nash had plenty of help. There was Raja taking the ball out of Bobby Simmons' hands, and later helping to break up a pass for an Amare Stoudemire steal. There was Amare's assist on an inbounds pass that led to one of Nash's daggers. Plus, Amare hit all four of his free throws when the game was still very much on the line. There's plenty of credit to go around in putting this one in the win column, but it will be Nash who gets most of the headlines, and understandably so. Here's what he did in the final 3:30 of the game:
- Connected with Amare on a pick and roll for the easy layup.
- Grabbed a defensive rebound
- Sank a three-pointer
- Sank another three-pointer after Amare found him inexplicably standing wide open following the inbounds pass
- Found Amare again on another pick and roll
- Squeezed a pass between two Bucks for an easy assist to Shawn Marion
- Calmly sank four free throws to put the icing on it.
As for the rest of the game, the Suns played well enough in the first quarter for a six-point lead, but the second quarter was painful on the eyes. Too many jump shots clanging off the rim, and too many offensive rebounds allowed on the other end led to the Suns being outscored 38-24 in the second, and trailing by eight at the half. They made up only two of those points in the third quarter, and got off on the wrong foot at the start of the fourth when Charlie Bell made a three-pointer to open the deficit to nine. But that's when our Bell got going, and in the end, the Suns showed their experience and composure down the stretch, becoming the first Western Conference team to reach 30 wins this season.
Player of the Game: Steve Nash. 37 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, five three-pointers, two steals, and just two turnovers. Any questions?
Runner-Up: Andrew Bogut. The Bucks' best chance for winning this game was their ability to beat the Suns on the boards. Bogut did his part with 13 rebounds (5 offensive) to go with his 19 points.