PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- With a triple-double against the Trail
Blazers, Steve Nash made it clear he is ready for the playoffs.
Nash had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Phoenix
Suns brought Portland's dismal season to a merciful end with a
106-96 victory Wednesday night.
"I'm ready to roll now. I'm excited," Nash said.
Shawn Marion had 32 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, who had
already clinched their second straight Pacific Division title.
The Suns will face the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the New
Orleans Hornets 115-95 Wednesday night to clinch seventh place in
the Western Conference. The first-round, best-of-seven series opens
Sunday in Phoenix.
"They've been playing well. It'll be tough," Phoenix coach
Mike D'Antoni said about the Lakers. "We have home-court advantage
and we'll play our style of basketball and see where it goes."
The Blazers, whose mounting losses on the court were compounded
by a suddenly shaky ownership situation, finish the season an
"It wasn't very fun, honestly," Blazers forward Zach Randolph
said. "Man, only 21 wins, you know?"
After the Blazers tied the game at 36 midway through the second
quarter, the Suns went on an 11-4 run capped by Tim Thomas'
3-pointer to lead 49-40. Phoenix led 55-48 at the half.
Nash hit a 3-pointer to put the Suns up 79-58 and Phoenix led by
as many as 24.
The Suns started Marion, after resting him on Monday in an
115-78 victory over New Orleans. The Suns made an NBA season-high
and team-record 20 3-pointers -- one shy of the league record -- in
The Suns added 13 3-pointers against Portland, bringing their
single-season record to 837 3-pointers made. Phoenix is averaging
more than 10 3-pointers per game this season.
The Suns were without forward Boris Diaw, who had strep throat
and didn't make the trip.
"The crazy thing about this team is we went out there and did a
lot of stuff against all the odds," Marion said. "Everybody had
written us off but we knew what we could do and we went out and
Jarrett Jack had 18 points off the bench for the Blazers, who
have lost eight in a row and 33 of their last 37. Player discontent
hit a high as the season wound to a close with two players --
forwards Darius Miles and Randolph -- each sitting out a recent game
because of insubordinate acts.
Randolph was inactive for the finale because of soreness in his
right knee. Miles was in uniform but coach Nate McMillan kept him
out of the game.
The Blazers' tumultuous season on the court was marked by
upheaval off it. Owner Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of
Microsoft, said the team was losing too much money.
Allen appealed for some kind of public partnership, and barring
that, said he would have to sell the team. Recently he said he'd
like some kind of resolution before the NBA draft.
It was Portland's worst finish since going 18-64 in 1971-72, the
team's second year in the league.
"There were too many negative things going on all at once,"
Blazers center Theo Ratliff said. "There were constant problems
every single day. Any time you have that kind of atmosphere you
can't do anything but fail."
Former Blazer Terry Porter is trying to rally investors to
buy the team. Porter was in Portland on Tuesday and Wednesday, and
attended the team's finale. Earlier in the day, he met with
Portland Mayor Tom Potter. ... The Suns set the league record for
made 3-pointers last season with 796. ... Diaw was the only Sun not
to miss a single game until Wednesday night.