|Jared Dudley: Nine points of the bench.|
Well, that was close (even though it shouldn't have been).
Late in the second quarter on Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns led the Sacramento Kings by 20 points and looked as if they were going to wrap this one up early in the third quarter. Unbelievably, the score was tied with about eight minutes to go in the game. But the Suns wound up answering each of the Kings' attempts to overtake them in the game's final minutes to win 113-109 at Sacramento's Arco Arena.
The third quarter definitely was not pretty, with the Suns going ice-cold and the Kings building confidence and steam with each missed Suns field-goal attempt.
When the score was tied 88-88, the Suns snapped out of their doldrums. Problem is, the Kings weren't going away at this point. Fortunately for the Suns, the Kings never did own the lead in this game. The teams traded baskets down the stretch, but Steve Nash took over the game in the final minutes to preserve victory, which snapped a seven-game losing streak on the road for the Suns.
Nash had a huge night, scoring 30 points and -- this is key -- going 13-for-13 from the free-throw line. Essentially, it was Nash's late free throws that won the game. He also dished out 12 assists to guys like Amar'e Stoudamire, who had 24 points, and Jason Richardson, who had 20, a much-welcomed return to form for JRich after three consecutive, injury-shortened, low-output games. Channing Frye scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
For the Kings, the highlight was the play of Tyreke Evans. The rookie out of Memphis has been great for Sacramento, and last night was no exception. He scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and had seven assists.
Tonight, the Suns will come home to host the Houston Rockets, losers of two games in a row and owners of 20-15 record. The Suns, meanwhile, have one of the best records in the league at home (13-3). In their first battle this year, on November 17 in Houston, the Suns won 111-105 behind a balanced scoring attack in which all five starters hit double-digits in points. This year, the Rockets (who are without the services of stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady) are leaning on third-year man Aaron Brooks, who leads the team with 17.9 points a game.
Tipoff: 7 p.m. TV: My45 (Channel 9) Radio: KTAR 620 AM.