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Phoenix wins third in a row, could still get into playoffs

The Philadelphia 76ers' Donyell Marshall defends a shot by the Phoenix Suns' Shaquille O'Neal on Wednesday in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the 76ers 126-116.

The Philadelphia 76ers' Donyell Marshall defends a shot by the Phoenix Suns' Shaquille O'Neal on Wednesday in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the 76ers 126-116.

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns are still fighting for a playoff spot.

Jason Richardson scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half, and Shaquille O’Neal had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Suns to their third straight victory, 126-116 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Steve Nash added 24 points and 10 assists to help the Suns move within four games of idle Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The loss ended the 76ers’ winning streak at four games.

“We’re still alive,” Nash said. “We still feel we can do it.”

Grant Hill added 21 points for the Suns, giving them four 20-point scorers for the second consecutive game. It’s the first time in Suns history the feat has been accomplished and the first time in the league since the New Orleans Hornets did it April 14 and 16, 2007.

“That was a good win,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. “We’re still trying to chase teams to see if we can get into the playoffs.”

Andre Miller topped Philadelphia with 23 points and eight assists, and Thaddeus Young also had 23 points.

Richardson helped the Suns break open a close game with 11 points in the fourth quarter. O’Neal dominated the game inside, hitting 12 of 18 shots, and Nash directed the Suns’ potent offense.

The first half produced a series of runs and ended with the 76ers leading 66-63, but it was marred by an injury to Leandro Barbosa, one of the Suns’ leading scorers.

Barbosa, averaging 14.5 points, was forced out with 26.3 seconds remaining in the first period when he hyperextended his left knee on a drive to the basket. His status was listed as day-to-day and he will undergo an MRI on Thursday.

Richardson said that Gentry told him at halftime he needed to be more aggressive in the second half because of Barbosa’s absence.

“I struggled in the first half,” Richardson said. “It was rough. In the second half, Coach wanted me to step up. That’s exactly what I did. “All the guys are stepping up now. We have to win almost every game now (to make the playoffs).”

Phoenix and Dallas each has 14 games left. They meet one more time, April 5 at Dallas.

The 76ers bemoaned their lack of defense.

“We just never got them out of rhythm,” said former Arizona Wildcat Andre Iguodala, who had 11 points. “They just kept scoring and all their guys had it going, it seemed.”

Notable: For the second season in a row, the Suns will play an outdoor exhibition game, this time against Golden State on Oct. 10 at Indian Wells, Calif.

Celtics clinch; Wade out

BOSTON – Paul Pierce scored 36 points and the Boston Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division title with a 112-108 win over the Miami Heat, who played without NBA scoring-leader Dwyane Wade.

Wade missed his first game of the season because of a right hip flexor. But Boston was without Kevin Garnett for the 13th straight game with a strained right knee and Ray Allen, who hyperextended his elbow Tuesday night in a loss at Chicago.

Rajon Rondo had 27 points for Boston. Miami, in its third overtime game in its last five, was led by Michael Beasley with 21 points and Mario Chalmers with 19.

Rockets 106, Pistons 101, 2 OT: In Houston, Yao Ming scored 31 and Ron Artest added 26 to lead Houston past undermanned Detroit. Aaron Brooks scored seven of his 14 points in the extra periods, helping the Rockets stay in third place in the Western Conference standings.

Trail Blazers 95, Pacers 85: In Indianapolis, Brandon Roy scored 20 points, and Portland center Greg Oden won his first pro game in his hometown. Oden, the top pick in the 2007 draft, returned to Portland’s lineup after missing more than a month because of a bone chip in his left knee. He finished with four points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.

Hornets 94, Timberwolves 93: In New Orleans, Chris Paul capped a 26-point, 10-assist, five-steal performance for New Orleans by setting up David West’s dunk with 12.6 seconds left. Minnesota’s Randy Foye missed a 17-foot jumper as time expired, allowing New Orleans to escape with the victory. An earlier jumper by Foye was initially ruled a 3, then changed to a 2.

Bulls 103, Thunder 96: In Oklahoma city, Derrick Rose scored 20 of his 25 points and didn’t miss a shot in the second half as Chicago snapped a seven-game road losing streak. Russell Westbrook, the fourth overall pick in the draft, had 15 points.

Magic 106, Bucks 80: In Milwaukee, Dwight Howard had 28 points and came up three assists shy of a triple-double, powering Orlando past Milwaukee. Howard finished with 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Nets 115, Knicks 89: In New York, Vince Carter scored 29 points and Brook Lopez had 23 to help New Jersey salvage the final game of an otherwise miserable five-game trip.

Bobcats 104, Kings 88: In Charlotte, N.C., Gerald Wallace had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Charlotte beat short-handed Sacramento to keep the Kings winless against the Eastern Conference at 0-28.

Nuggets 111, Grizzlies 109: In Memphis, Tenn., Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points, including the go-ahead 3-point play with 33.2 remaining, as Denver overcame a 17-point second-half deficit.

Clippers 123, Wizards 108: In Los Angeles, Eric Gordon scored 15 of his 26 points in the third quarter, and Baron Davis tied a career high with 20 assists for Los Angeles.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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