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Suns win, but are sidelined for playoffs

Postseason vets O’Neal, Nash left in strange territory

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul goes to the basket as Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic tries for the block in the first half of Wednesday's game in New Orleans.

New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul goes to the basket as Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic tries for the block in the first half of Wednesday's game in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS – Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal will be playoff outsiders for the first time in a long time.

Nash had 24 points and 13 assists, making six key free throws in the final 42 seconds, and Phoenix survived a late New Orleans rally to take a 105-100 victory on Wednesday night.

But the win wasn’t enough to keep Phoenix’s playoff hopes alive. The Suns were knocked out of the postseason for the first time since 2004, when Dallas beat Utah later Wednesday night 130-101. The Mavericks became the final team to lock up a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

For O’Neal, it will be the first time his team has not played in the postseason since his rookie season of 1992-93 with Orlando. Nash last missed the postseason in 1999 with Dallas.

The game plan Wednesday night was to make Chris Paul carry the offense for New Orleans, and it worked great.

“We made him shoot all the shots,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “If you don’t do that, he will stretch your defense and kill you.”

Paul had a game-high 29 points and 16 assists, but he was 13 of 29 shooting and turned the ball over three times.

Mavericks 130, Jazz 101: In Dallas, the Mavericks clinched the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and took a huge step to possibly avoiding the No. 8 seed and a first-round series against the Lakers. Dallas is 0-3 against the Lakers this season. Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points for Dallas, which is tied for seventh place with Utah and a game behind sixth-place New Orleans with four games left.

Cavaliers 98, Wizards 86: In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 21 points before spending the fourth quarter playing air guitar on the bench. The Cavs improved to 38-1 at home and became the first team in NBA history to have two 15-game winning streaks at home in the same season.

Celtics 106, Nets 104: In Boston, Rajon Rondo had 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Boston overcame an early 10-point deficit and a last-minute scare.

Nuggets 122, Thunder 112: In Denver, Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, helping Denver to its eighth straight win.

Trail Blazers 95, Spurs 83: In San Antonio, Brandon Roy scored 26 points as Portland notched its first win in San Antonio since 2002. Portland moved into a three-way tie with the Spurs and Houston for the third-best record (50-28) in the West.

Magic 81, Grizzlies 78: In Orlando, Fla., Hedo Turkoglu scored 20 points, Dwight Howard added 14 and Orlando rallied to beat pesky Memphis.

Hawks 113, Bucks 105: In Milwaukee, Joe Johnson scored 30 points as Atlanta inched closer to earning home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Pistons 113, Knicks 86: In New York, Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, and Detroit rolled into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Pacers 130, Raptors 101: In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 29 points, and Indiana had its highest point total and largest margin of victory of the season.

Timberwolves 105, Warriors 97: In Oakland, Calif., Sebastian Telfair scored 21 points, including a pair of key 3-pointers down the stretch, for Minnesota.

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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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