Phoenix Suns Lock Up Playoff Spot After Edging Out Chicago Bulls in Chicago; Play Lowly Nets Tonight

With just eight games left in the regular season, and a trip to the playoffs secured, the Phoenix Suns look nearly unstoppable.

The Suns nipped the Chicago Bulls 111-105 Tuesday night in Chicago, a city where they have struggled in the past few years. The Suns are now 17-4 since the All-Star Break and are on their first eight-game winning streak since November 2007.

The Suns now hold the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and are only a half-game behind third-place Utah (whom the Suns play on the final game of the season) and a full game behind second-place Dallas. All three teams are in action tonight, with the Suns visiting the lowly New Jersey Nets, the lowly Golden State Warriors visiting Utah, and the Mavericks visiting Memphis, who at 38-35 are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt.

Channing Frye hit the biggest shot of the night in Chicago when he nailed one of his three three-pointers (after a typically huge assist from Steve Nash) with 41.6 seconds left. That bucket broke a 103-103 tie. After the game, Nash told reporters, "We put [Frye] out there for a reason, to space the floor. They double-teamed me and collapsed on Amar'e [Stoudemire] on the pick and roll, and [Frye] came up to the top wide open. It's a good play for all of us."

The Bulls' Derrick Rose, who led Chicago with 23 points, hit a layup with 37 seconds left to bring the Bulls to within one point of the Suns, but Grant Hill dunked (with an assist from Nash) with 23 seconds left to make it 108-105. After that, it was all missed shots by the Bulls and converted free throws by the Suns.

Nash finished with 22 points and 10 assists. The Suns were led by Jason Richardson, who scored 27 points on 10-19 shooting and pulled down six rebounds. Stoudemire finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and 13 of those points came in the first quarter. Stoudemire wound up hitting only six of his 15 field-goal attempts.

Tonight's road game against New Jersey tips off at 4:30 p.m. TV: My45 (channel 9). Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info:

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett