Nash helps Suns clinch playoff spot

Nash helps Suns clinch playoff spot

Published March 31, 2010

CHICAGO – Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Channing Frye hit a clutch 3-pointer with 41.6 seconds to go Tuesday night and the Phoenix Suns clinched a playoff berth by beating the Chicago Bulls 111-105 for their eighth straight win.

Steve Nash scored seven of his 22 points in the final two minutes and had 10 assists. Amare Stoudemire added 21 points for the Suns, 13 in the first quarter.

Flip Murray and Derrick Rose, who kept Chicago close down the stretch with 10 points in the final period, had 23 points each. The Bulls are 1 1/2 games behind Toronto for the eighth playoff spot in East.

Richardson's 3-pointer with three minutes left gave Phoenix a one-point lead, but Rose drove in for a short shot and put Chicago back ahead 12 seconds later.

Nash's turnaround jumper put the Suns up before Rose answered with two free throws to make it 101-100 Chicago with 1:36 to go.

Nash then drove the lane for a layup with 1:14 to go, was fouled and sank the free throws to give Phoenix a 103-101 lead. But Rose hit two more from the line with 59.8 seconds remaining for a tie.

Frye then hit a high-arching 3 from the top of the key with 41.6 seconds to go for a 106-103 lead, but Rose drove in for another basket to get the Bulls within one.

Nash then made a nice pass to Grant Hill for a dunk with 23.2 seconds remaining to restore Phoenix's lead to three. After Rose missed a long 3-pointer, Nash sank a pair of free throws with 13 seconds to go.

Stoudemire dunked on the break over James Johnson, was fouled and converted the three-point play to highlight a late 10-0 first-quarter run by the Suns that opened up a quick 12-point lead.

The Suns' lead didn't last long as Jannero Pargo hit a pair of 3-pointers and Murray another in a 13-2 Chicago run that tied the game early in the second.

Notes: The Suns' last eight-game winning streak came from Nov. 9-23, 2007. ... Chicago's Kirk Hinrich sprained his left ankle in the second quarter. He tested it during warmups for the second half and then did not return ... Joakim Noah was assessed a technical foul after the first half ended for complaining to officials about a call while standing at midcourt. ... Entering the game, Stoudemire had averaged 27.6 points in the 20 games since the All-Star break. ... Murray brought the crowd to its feet by swishing a midcourt hook shot at the end of the third quarter, but the shot came after the horn. The call was upheld by video review. ... The Suns are 17-4 since the All-Star break.

Written by RICK GANO, AP Sports Writer


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