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Phoenix rises to the occasion

Posted: Monday, May 02, 2005

 

  Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (13) drives past Memphis Grizzlies guard Jason Williams, left, in the first quarter of their first-round Western Conference playoff game Sunday, May 1, 2005, in Memphis, Tenn. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (13) drives past Memphis Grizzlies guard Jason Williams, left, in the first quarter of their first-round Western Conference playoff game Sunday, May 1, 2005, in Memphis, Tenn.

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Forget slowing down in the playoffs, the Phoenix Suns sprinted right into the Western Conference semifinals.

Joe Johnson scored 25 points, and the Suns swept the Memphis Grizzlies with a 123-115 victory Sunday night that put Phoenix into the second round for the first time since 2000. They now get to rest and wait to see if they will play Dallas or Houston.

It's the first sweep by the Suns in a best-of-seven series and their first since the 1995 playoffs when they took Portland 3-0 in a best-of-five opening round.

Steve Nash added 24 points and nine assists for the Suns, who outshot Memphis in the highest-scoring game of these playoffs 60.3 percent (38-of-63) to 50.6 percent (45-of-89). Shawn Marion also had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Jim Jackson had 19 points, Amare Stoudemire added 18, and Quentin Richardson had 14.

The Suns outrebounded Memphis 37-28 and had more trips to the free throw line (49) than Memphis made shots from the floor (45).

Pau Gasol scored a playoff-best 28 points to lead the Grizzlies, who extended their NBA record to eight straight playoff losses. They will have to wait until next season to try for the young franchise's first postseason victory.

Jason Williams had 20 points, Dahntay Jones added 14, Stromile Swift and Mike Miller each had 13, James Posey 12 and Earl Watson 11.

Memphis coach Mike Fratello tried to jumpstart his Grizzlies by telling the disruptive Bonzi Wells that he wouldn't be playing and not to bother sitting on the bench. Williams, perhaps in silent protest, wore a blue sweatband around his left biceps with Wells' No. 6 on it.

With empty seats scattered around the arena, it seemed the biggest question would be when the rest of the fans would start leaving as the Suns ran up and down the court and built a 19-point lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Suns had more fastbreak points in the quarter (16) than they'd had in either of the last two games.

Stoudemire made a pair of free throws for their biggest margin at 41-20 early in the second quarter.

The Grizzlies, who lost forward Brian Cardinal to a sprained left knee with 5:35 left in the second, began chipping away at Phoenix's lead as the Suns finally cooled off. After hitting 12 of 18 in the first quarter, the Suns were only 7-of-18 in the second.

Williams dribbled off the final seconds before hitting a 13-foot jumper in front of Nash to pull the Grizzlies within 63-57 at the half. Williams opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and Gasol's driving layup tied the game at 64.

Nash answered with a 16-footer and finished off a three-point play for a 67-64 lead. The Grizzlies got within three again, on Mike Miller's jumper at 71-68 with 7:48 left in the third. That was as close as they'd get.

SuperSonics 115, Kings 102

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Seattle SuperSonics put the game on Ray Allen's narrow shoulders, and the wiry shooting guard carried them to the brink of the second round.

Allen scored a playoff career-high 45 points, hitting six 3-pointers in the Sonics' 115-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings in Game 4 on Sunday night, sending Seattle home with a chance to finish the best-of-seven series.

Rashard Lewis scored 19 points and Jerome James added 17 for Seattle — but Allen, his calm expression rarely changing, was relentlessly spectacular in front of the Kings' deafening home crowd. He scored 10 points in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Sonics reclaimed the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.

And when the cold-shooting Kings got within 104-98 in the final 90 seconds, Allen finished them with a shot-block-beating 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:02 to play.

Peja Stojakovic scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half for the Kings, who haven't lost a first-round series since 2000. Their dramatic roster shuffling during the season, which included the departures of playoff stalwarts Chris Webber and Doug Christie, might have doomed that streak, unless the Kings can string together three improbable wins.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Seattle, with Game 6 back in Sacramento on Friday night, if necessary.

Suns 123, Grizzlies 115

PHOENIX (123) — Richardson 4-7 4-6 14, Marion 10-13 3-5 23, Stoudemire 5-10 8-12 18, Nash 6-10 8-10 24, Johnson 7-12 9-11 25, Jackson 6-10 4-5 19, Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Barbosa 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-63 36-49 123.

MEMPHIS (115) — Battier 1-7 0-0 2, Gasol 12-23 3-3 28, Wright 1-3 0-0 2, Williams 8-15 0-0 20, Miller 5-10 2-2 13, Cardinal 0-0 0-0 0, Posey 3-6 3-4 12, Watson 4-6 2-2 11, Jones 5-10 1-2 14, Swift 6-9 1-3 13. Totals 45-89 12-16 115.

Phoenix 39 24 28 32 — 123

Memphis 20 36 26 33 — 115

3-Point Goals—Phoenix 11-24 (Nash 4-6, Jackson 3-7, Johnson 2-3, Richardson 2-4, Barbosa 0-1, Marion 0-3), Memphis 13-24 (Williams 4-6, Jones 3-4, Posey 3-6, Gasol 1-1, Watson 1-2, Miller 1-3, Battier 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Phoenix 50 (Marion 11), Memphis 36 (Battier, Jones 5). Assists—Phoenix 26 (Nash 9), Memphis 26 (Williams 8). Total Fouls—Phoenix 17, Memphis 32. Technicals—Memphis Defensive Three Second, Swift, Posey. Flagrant foul—Jones. A—17,243 (18,119).

SuperSonics 115, Kings 102

SEATTLE (115) — Lewis 4-12 11-12 19, R.Evans 0-2 0-0 0, James 7-11 3-3 17, Allen 17-28 5-5 45, Ridnour 2-5 4-4 8, Radmanovic 3-5 0-0 8, Collison 2-3 1-1 5, A.Daniels 2-5 2-3 7, Fortson 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 39-73 28-30 115.

SACRAMENTO (102) — Stojakovic 10-18 5-6 27, Thomas 6-12 3-4 15, Miller 6-10 3-6 15, Mobley 7-18 0-0 16, Bibby 4-17 3-6 13, Songaila 1-4 2-2 4, Jackson 0-3 0-0 0, Williamson 3-6 6-6 12. Totals 37-88 22-30 102.

Seattle 20 36 24 35 — 115

Sacramento 31 37 16 18 — 102

3-Point Goals—Seattle 9-25 (Allen 6-14, Radmanovic 2-3, A.Daniels 1-2, Ridnour 0-2, Lewis 0-4), Sacramento 6-21 (Bibby 2-5, Stojakovic 2-7, Mobley 2-8, Miller 0-1). Fouled Out—Thomas. Rebounds—Seattle 44 (Lewis, James 8), Sacramento 51 (Thomas 14). Assists—Seattle 23 (Allen, A.Daniels 6), Sacramento 15 (Bibby 7). Total Fouls—Seattle 24, Sacramento 26. A—17,317 (17,317).



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