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February 8, 2008 5:54 PM

Phoenix game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- Nash not only dribbled off five seconds, he hit two free throws and Seattle falls 103-99. I'll return with postgame notes.

WEBBER ALL OVER AGAIN --- Szczerbiak called for a timeout when the Sonics don't have any timeouts. Seattle was given a technical foul and Nash hit the free throw. Phoenix leads 101-99 with 15.1 seconds left. The Sonics will try to foul, but the game is likely over if Nash is at the line.

9-0 RUN --- Wilcox capped the run with a floating mid-range jumper that give the Sonics a 99-98 lead with 1:04 left. Durant also had two big plays at the start of the run, including a breakaway dunk.

SUPER JOE --- Johan Petro is terrorizing the Suns with his ballhawking defense. He's everywhere. Blocking shots, causing turnovers and just being an overall nusiance. He's got three blocks and he's altered at least four shots. He's also giving Stoudemire all that he can handle. The game is tied 87-87 with 6:13 left.

MORE ON THE SUNS --- NBA rules say teams must have 13 players on the roster. Phoenix, which sent two players to Miami in the O'Neal deal, has two weeks to sign somebody. GM Steve Kerr said he's looking for an athletic wing to replace Shawn Marion.

BIG WINNER --- Some fan swished a three-pointer from the top of the key to win $7,777. The Suns should sign him to a 10-day contract. They have just 12 players and they're shooting 2 for 11 on three-pointers tonight.

THIRD QUARTER --- This game is turning into a halfcourt affair and display of pick 'n rolls. Phoenix has 27 fastbreak points, but the Sonics are doing a better job of slowing them down because they're scoring points and limiting the Suns' opportunities to rebound and run. Still, Phoenix leads 78-74.

DEFENSIVE SWITCH --- Durant is defending Nash. The Sonics did this in their previous game against the Suns and it was effective then. With his 7-4 wingspan, Durant can give Nash fits.

WATSON IS BACK --- He's on the bench after receiving six stitches. I'm told Brian Skinner caught him with an elbow. Watson is expected to return. It's safe to say he won't record a second straight triple double night. He has four assists, three rebounds and no points.

WATSON DIDN'T RETURN --- The teams came out of the locker room, but Watson stayed behind. He's receiving stitches and the Sonics PR man said his return is questionable.

DURANT STRUGGLING --- The rookie has just two points on 1-for-7 shooting. Wilcox leads the Sonics with 14 points and seven rebounds. Wally Szczerbiak has eight points. Stoudemire has 14 points and Hill 10 for the Suns.

HALFTIME --- Sonics trail 53-49. Carlesimo wanted to limit Phoenix's free throws, however, the Suns have shot 8 of 14 from the line while Seattle is 4 of 7. The Supes also have not been able to slow down Phoenix's offense. The Suns have 16 fastbreak points. Seattle is doing a good job of limiting Phoenix's three-point percentage. The Suns are 1 of 8 behind the line.

WATSON BLEEDING --- Not sure how it happened, but he has a bad cut over his left eye that's gushing blood. As he walked off the court for intermission, the left side of his face had a thick stream of blood that stopped at his chin.

THAT'S HOW YOU DO IT --- Wilcox flushed a hammer dunk on fastbreak that cut Seattle's deficit to 44-43.

NOT ENOUGH JUICE --- reen certainly doesn't want to see his second-quarter gaffe on the hightlight shows. He streaked through the lane and looked as if he were going to slam a tomahawk jam only he came up short and the ball caught the front of the rim. The crowd jeered and Green seemed to take the ribbing in well.

WILCOX LEADS SCORING --- He's got nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. Stoudemire has 8 for Phoenix.

FAST PACE --- Seattle trails 26-23, but the score shouldn't worry Sonics fans as much as the shot attempts. Phoenix has taken 24 shots and they're on pace for 96. That's a lot. In Seattle's previous two losses to the Suns they attempted 81 and 84 shots.

SHORT HANDED --- Newly-signed Shaquille O'Neal flew back home to Miami and will return Sunday, which leaves Phoenix with just 11 players. Coach Mike D'Antoni only uses eight players in the rotation, but the Suns could be tired after playing a double overtime game on Wednesday.

STARTERS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

PHOENIX
F -- Grant Hill
F -- Boris Diaw
C -- Amare Stoudemire
G -- Raja Bell
G -- Steve Nash

Officials -- Dick Bavetta, Violet Palmer and Leroy Richardson

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Coach P.J. Carlesimo said the key to the game is Seattle must attempt more free throws than Phoenix and the Sonics must contain Phoenix's transition game and their three-point shooters.

Carlesimo also said he'd rather Steve Nash score 30 points rather than have him score 20 and dish out 12 assists. Nash killed the Sonics in their previous game, including a pivotal play when he ran a pick 'n roll with Amare Stoudemire that resulted in a game-clinching jumper for Stoudemire.

Spoke with Earl Watson and he says it's unlikely that he'll duplicate Wednesday's game when he had his first NBA triple double. A reader emailed me yesterday that Watson played his best game in college when he had 17 points, 16 assists, four steals and no turnovers during a win over Maryland in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Watson agreed. He said he played just 24 minutes. He also said Steve Blake caught him with an elbow that opened a cut over his left eye. Watson needed 24 stitches to close the cut.

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