When the Phoenix Suns departed the Valley last Monday for their most recent road trip, they were riding a two-game winning streak and were probably fueled by a great deal of hope and optimism. After all, the squad was headed on a five-game swing through the Eastern Conference to take on some of the NBA's worst teams.
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As they're wont to often do, the Suns peaked both early and late during Monday night's game. Planet Orange started out with a 19-12 run in the first quarter, powered by aggressive play from -- you guessed it -- Steve Nash (17 points) and Grant Hill (13 points). The 76ers slammed on the brakes, however, and battled back with 54 percent shooting to take a 26-25 lead at the beginning of the second stanza.
They continued to dominate in the middle quarters, with Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams capitalizing on Phoenix's mistakes. Philly converted 15 of 16 turnovers into buckets in the first half to help push its lead to 12 points in the second and later kicked it up to 20 points in the third period.
Despite off-the-bench scoring heroics from Jared Dudley (23 points) and Goran Dragic (12 points), the Suns slumbered through most of the game, only seeming to awaken in the final stretch. With under five minutes to go, Nash and Dragic began hitting shots and began a 17-6 run that eventually cut the score to 103-93. It was too little, too late for Phoenix, however, as a pair of jump shots from Williams snuffed out any dreams of an unlikely comeback.
The Suns return to home on Wednesday night for a battle against Chalotte. While the Bobcats (17-25) lost last night to the New Orleans Hornets, they've been resurgant lately, winning six of their last 10 games. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, visit www.suns.com.