Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 12/17

Game 1: Friday, December 17th
Game 2: Friday, February 11th
Game 3: Sunday, March 6th

Suns 112

(20-3, 10-1 away)

SuperSonics 110

(18-5, 10-2 home)

7:30 PM ET, December 17, 2004

Key Arena, Seattle, WA

1 2 3 4 T
PHX 21 34 23 34112
SEA 37 20 24 29110

Top Performers

PHX: S. Nash 21 Pts, 6 Reb, 12 Ast

Sea: R. Allen 32 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

Phoenix continues to roll on the road

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns can win on the road. Even more impressive, they can come from behind to win on the road.

Joe Johnson had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Shawn Marion added 22 points, and Steve Nash scored 21 as the Phoenix Suns beat the Seattle SuperSonics 112-110 Friday night in a showdown between the NBA's top two teams.

"We held tough like we've been doing most of the year," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We made some stops at the end. It was a great, great game."

Amare Stoudemire added 20 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix, which erased a seven-point deficit in the final 3 minutes and became the first club to 20 wins this season, but first had to outlast the Sonics in an exciting fourth quarter.

"We don't want to live that way, but it's nice to be able to come back from being down," said Nash, who added 12 assists. "We've got a big heart, but it's also talent. You've got to use those weapons."

Quentin Richardson's three-point play put Phoenix ahead for good at 105-103 with 1:10 remaining, and the Suns survived a thrilling finish.

Phoenix (20-3) led 107-104 with the clock running down when Seattle's Luke Ridnour missed a 3-point try from the right wing with 11.9 seconds to play.

The Sonics (18-5) had just moved the ball around the perimeter for three decent looks, but Rashard Lewis missed an inside try and Vladimir Radmanovic missed a 3-pointer during the possession.

"It was a hard-fought battle," said Ray Allen, who scored 32 points on 15-of-26 shooting. "The ball didn't go down for us in the stretch. I know I missed a layup that would have put us in a different situation. But when I draw the final conclusion, they beat us."

Marion made two free throws, but Allen bounced in a 3-pointer with 4 seconds to play to get Seattle within 109-107. Nash was fouled immediately and hit both shots to give Phoenix a 111-107 lead.

The Suns needed every point, too, because Lewis took an inbounds pass and hit a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds on the clock. Marion was fouled and added one free throw to seal the win.

"They are a great team," Marion said. "They have been shooting the mess out of the ball. They hit some big shots. You have to give them credit."

Lewis scored 25 points, while Reggie Evans added 13 points and 14 rebounds. Radmanovic scored 14, and Antonio Daniels had 11 for the Sonics.

Phoenix won its seventh straight game, as well as its seventh straight on the road to extend the team's longest road winning streak since 1997-98. At 10-1, the Suns have the best away record in the league.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first meeting in almost five years between teams with better than .800 records after 20 games. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 90-87 on Feb. 29, 2000.

Even stranger, neither the Suns nor Sonics reached the playoffs last season.

It had the feel of a playoff game, a sensation that Sonics fans haven't experienced for three years. The sellout crowd of 17,072 was treated to a great fourth quarter that didn't quite swing in Seattle's favor.

"It was a great game to be a part of," Allen said. "It was fun. It was very up-tempo. Shots were going in from everywhere."

Seattle, which came in with the best home record in the NBA, lost for the second time in a week at KeyArena, following a loss to Boston last weekend.

Seattle led 89-85 after Allen's three-point play with 6:42 to play, capping an 8-0 burst. Phoenix tied it at 90 on a 3-pointer by Richardson. Seattle used a 12-5 run to go up 102-95, forcing a Suns timeout with 3:08 remaining after Radmanovic scored on a banked-in 15-footer and rattled in a 3-pointer.

"We just don't lose heart," D'Antoni said. "They kept their heads in and kept plugging away."

No lead lasted long, though, and Marion swished a 3-pointer and dunked on a fastbreak to get Phoenix within 102-100 with 2:35 to go. After Evans made 1 of 2 free throws, Marion hit both of his to cut the lead to 103-102.

"You've got them on the ropes like that and, bam, they come right back and take the lead," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said.

Game notes

Seattle fell to 13-1 when scoring at least 100 points. ... The Suns have won 16 of the last 26 against the Sonics. ... Lewis came up limping after an attempted alley-oop bounced off the rim midway through the fourth period, but dusted himself off and kept playing.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 112 110
FGM-FGA 40-82 (.488) 43-88 (.489)
3PM-3PA 8-23 (.348) 8-26 (.308)
FTM-FTA 24-33 (.727) 16-22 (.727)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-40 14-43
Assists 22 22
Turnovers 11 14
Steals 3 5
Blocks 1 4
Fast Break Points 26 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 25 (3/0)
Largest Lead 5 16

Top Performers

Steve Nash Nash
Points: 21
Reb: 6
Ast: 12
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Ray Allen Allen
Points: 32
Reb: 5
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 0