Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/30

Game 1: Friday, January 30th
Game 2: Monday, March 29th

Wizards 95

(23-51, 7-30 away)

Suns 101

(26-49, 16-21 home)

    7:00 PM ET, March 29, 2004

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    WSH 20 19 20 3695
    PHX 24 28 19 30101

    Top Performers

    Washington: L. Hughes 32 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Phoenix: S. Marion 21 Pts, 12 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 4 Blk

    Marion, McDyess post double-doubles

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Shawn Marion, a five-year NBA veteran at 23, knows a young team will have its ups and downs.

    "We always seem to play down to our competition," Marion said after the Phoenix Suns nearly blew a 15-point lead before beating the Washington Wizards 101-95 Monday night. "We play good against good teams and bad against bad teams, and that's not how it's supposed to be."

    Marion had 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks and came up big on defense late in the game.

    Joe Johnson had 18 points -- 10 in the fourth quarter -- and Amare Stoudemire 15 in the Suns' fourth win in six games.

    Leandro Barbosa added 12 points, and Antonio McDyess had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns.

    "This was a slow, ugly game, but we came to play, and we wanted this victory," McDyess said.

    Washington's Larry Hughes scored 32 points and Gilbert Arenas added 30, but made only one of three free throws when Barbosa fouled out trying to stop his 3-point attempt with 31 seconds remaining. It was Washington's 10th loss in 12 games.

    Arenas' misses left the Suns leading 94-89 and allowed Phoenix to cruise on a free throw by Marion, two by Casey Jacobsen and four by Johnson.

    "That could have changed the game a little bit," Arenas said. "You know, maybe we didn't have to go for some of the 3s, or we could have played straight defense without fouling."

    With 3:30 left, Marion blocked a layup by Mitchell Butler, and in the final minute he had his last block, then put a hand in the face of two shooters before the Wizards' Etan Thomas went to the line for two foul shots with 44 seconds remaining.

    Barbosa responded with two free throws with 40.5 seconds left, opening a 94-88 lead and setting the stage for Arenas' misfires at the other end.

    The Suns started the 6-foot-9 McDyess at the post because of injuries to Jake Voskuhl and Jahidi White, their only true centers. Washington played without swingman Jerry Stackhouse, absent for undisclosed personal reasons.

    "We just needed that third man outside of Gilbert and Larry to score the ball for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We just didn't have it."

    Washington trailed by 46-31 with 3:18 left in the second quarter, but whittled away throughout the third period.

    The Wizards got within seven points three times -- the last on a free throw by 10-point scorer Jared Jeffries with 5:44 remaining. But Jeffries missed the second one, and Marion got the rebound and made a 22-footer at the other end, opening a 61-52 lead 16 seconds later.

    The Suns took a 71-59 lead into the final period.

    "We just weren't in harmony at all," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We played well in spurts in the first half. Then we got ahead and started worrying about ourselves instead of about the team."

    Maciej Lampe made three jumpers in the final 4:27 of the first quarter, the third lifting the Suns to a 24-18 lead with 48 seconds to go.

    Christian Laettner had two layups and two free throws in the next 2:40, pulling Washington to 28-25 with 10:08 left in the half.

    But the Wizards made only one basket in the next 10 minutes -- a dunk by Arenas, who negated it by batting the ball into the stands for a technical foul that gave the Suns three points -- and Phoenix took a 44-29 lead on Barbosa's 3 with 4:53 remaining.

    Hughes, who had 19 points at halftime, kept pace single-handedly during the run, using his speed to draw fouls good for six points. Then he broke the field-goal drought with a three-point play, trimming Washington's deficit to 46-36 with 1:57 to go.

    Game notes

    An MRI exam revealed a bone bruise in White's right knee, and he will miss at least two games. Voskuhl's MRI was negative, but D'Antoni gave him the night off because of a foot injury. "There's no damage anywhere," D'Antoni said. "When the pain goes away, he'll play." ... Suns G Howard Eisley missed his third straight game, and D'Antoni said his season may be over because of a hernia. ... Washington played minus Gs Steve Blake (thumb) and Juan Dixon (ankle). ... Wizards C Kwame Brown sprained his left ankle with 7:12 left in the third quarter and did not return. ... Johnson has played at least 40 minutes in 28 consecutive games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 95 101
    FGM-FGA 33-83 (.398) 37-75 (.493)
    3PM-3PA 3-15 (.200) 2-12 (.167)
    FTM-FTA 26-43 (.605) 25-33 (.758)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-40 8-43
    Assists 11 16
    Turnovers 15 18
    Steals 8 7
    Blocks 3 6
    Fast Break Points 2 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/0) 29 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Larry Hughes Hughes
    Points: 32
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Shawn Marion Marion
    Points: 21
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 4