Bell sprains ankle, leaves game as Suns win 6th straight game

SEATTLE (AP) -- The turnovers were careless and came at a dizzying rate, some from the most unlikely of sources -- Steve Nash.

Even at their sloppiest, the Suns were able to outclass lowly Seattle.

Nash scored 23 points, Amare Stoudemire dominated inside with 26 points, and Phoenix overcame a season-high 27 turnovers to beat the SuperSonics 110-98 on Wednesday night.

"We were just sloppy and tired and I think everyone wanted it to be easy. It's not the way it is," said a tired Nash, who had six turnovers, then spoke to a few thousand Canadian fans who made the trip down from British Columbia to see the Victoria, British Columbia native play.

Phoenix won its sixth straight -- its second longest streak this season -- and pulled within a half game of New Orleans and the idle Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference.

But afterward, there weren't too many smiles in the Suns locker room. Phoenix was relieved to escape Seattle with the victory, and concerned about the health of guard Raja Bell, who sprained his right ankle in the third quarter.

"It sucks," Nash said. "He's been playing great."

Bell crumpled to the court after hitting his sixth 3-pointer with 2:57 left in the third quarter, and giving Phoenix an 80-78 advantage after Seattle had taken its first lead of the game.

Seattle's Kevin Durant ran out on Bell during the shot, and Bell's right foot landed on Durant's foot. Bell immediately fell to the court in pain and was helped off the floor by teammates. He did not return.

X-rays were negative and Suns athletic trainer Aaron Nelson said Bell had a mild to moderate sprain, but how long Bell might be out won't be determined until Thursday.

Turns out, Bell's basket was the catalyst for the Suns' decisive surge. After Donyell Marshall gave Seattle a 78-77 lead with a pair of free throws, Bell's 3 started an 11-0 run by Phoenix, capped by Shaquille O'Neal's baseline leaner with 10:40 left that pushed the Suns advantage to 89-78.

Seattle briefly pulled within eight, before Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa combined to scored eight of the next 10 points to push the Suns' lead back to 14.

Bell had 20 points before getting injured, and Barbosa added 19 off the bench.

"This is a game two months ago we probably would have lost," Phoenix's Grant Hill said.

Jeff Green led Seattle with 19 points, and Durant and Luke Ridnour both scored 16. Those efforts couldn't keep Seattle from losing for the 13th time in its last 14 games.

At least this one wasn't embarrassing.

After giving up an NBA high 168 points to Denver in a 52-point loss to the Nuggets on Sunday night, the Sonics put up a fight in this one, bouncing back from an early 14-point deficit to take the lead in the third quarter.

"I thought our effort was good, we just had a bad last 3 minutes of the first half [and] we had a bad last 2 minutes of the third quarter," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We needed to stay more in touch with them."

With Nash, Bell and Barbosa at least not appearing fatigued after winning Tuesday night in Portland, the Suns hit 11 of 13 3-pointers in the first half and 15 of 21 for the game.

But it was Stoudemire imposing himself down low in the fourth quarter that finally broke Seattle. Stoudemire scored 11 of his 26 in the final quarter and hit 10 of 16 shots. That offset his career-high nine turnovers.

"It's definitely a good win. These are hard games to play, but we managed," Stoudemire said. "We had a chance to put them away by a large margin. They played well, but the fourth quarter was our quarter."

Game notes
Seattle reserve swingman Mickael Gelabale will have his sprained right knee re-examined on Thursday, but Carlesimo doesn't expect Gelabale to travel for two games this weekend. ... Phoenix swept the season series for the first time since the 1998-99 season. ... The Suns previous high for turnovers was 25 against Houston.