Phoenix Suns Enjoy Hot Third Quarter and Beat New Jersey Nets For Ninth-Straight Win. Next Up: Detroit Pistons on Friday

While common sense would dictate that maybe Nash might've sat this one out to rest and rehab his back in preparation for the playoffs, the Suns superstar was anything but idle during the contest. He led his team in the stats (and came damn close to notching a triple-double) with 24 points, 14 assists, and seven rebounds.

More importantly, Nash seemed to light a fire underneath his squad's collective asses after a  sluggish first half.

In the opening quarters, Phoenix shot only 50 percent from the field, but kept apace of New Jersey. By halftime, the Nets managed a three-point lead after outscoring Planet Orange 30-27 and some poor defense from Nash and his crew in the second period.

The third quarter was a different story. The Suns improved to 67 percent shooting in the quarter, starting things off with a 13-0 run. Amar'e Stoudemire, however, wasn't at his best (coming up with only 15 points and four assists) after getting doubled by New Jersey's Terrence Williams and Brook Lopez (a.k.a. RoLo's bro) all evening.

Regardless, Phoenix compensated for Big STAT's reduced stats with plenty of outside shooting, powered by a hailstorm of treys from Nash, Jason Richardson (who had 23 points overall), and Jared Dudley.

A 12-point lead by the Suns going into the fourth quarter was cut down to five by the Nets, but bench players Goran Dragic and Lou Amundson provided some timely buckets to keep the score from getting closer. The win is the Suns ninth-straight victory and allowed the team to keep apace with Utah and Dallas in the Western Conference standings. We're still in fourth place, a half game back from the Jazz, after both teams won their respective games on Wednesday.

Phoenix (49-26) will attempt to extend the streak to 10 during tomorrow night's road game against the Detroit Pistons (23-51). The Motor City squad's officially eliminated from post-season contention but could play the role of spoilers for the Suns as the purple-and-orange gang tries to keep rolling toward the playoffs.

Tip-off is at 5 p.m. TV: KUTP My45. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. More info: www.nba.com/suns.

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