Suns too hot to handle

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WASHINGTON – Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns made Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards look more like pretenders than contenders, putting the so-called “Phoenix Suns of the East” in their place with a 127-105 thumping Tuesday night.

Nash scored 27 points on 11-for-13 shooting and added 14 assists in the Suns’ 14th straight win. Phoenix led by 21 after the first quarter and won for the 30th time in 32 games in a matchup between the NBA’s two highest scoring teams.

Arenas, who has compared his team’s high-octane offense to the Suns’, scored 31 points, but he started 1-for-6 and the game was essentially over before he got going. When he finally made his second field goal, it only served to cut the Suns’ lead to 24. The Wizards cut the lead to 13 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Suns responded with a 6-0 run to put the game firmly out of reach.

76ers 102, Hornets 96

PHILADELPHIA – Kyle Korver scored 25 points, Andre Iguodala added 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers held on for a 102-96 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.

The Sixers got double-figure scoring from five players and opened their second half with a victory after going 11-30 over the first 41 games.

Andre Miller packaged 17 points and 11 assists, Rodney Carney, who got the start after Willie Green was a late scratch for Philadelphia, chipped in with 13 points, and Samuel Dalembert added 10 points and seven rebounds for Philadelphia. Devin Brown led the way for the Hornets with 24 points and David West added 23 in his third game back after missing 30 following shoulder surgery. Desmond Mason scored 17 for the Hornets, who had won four of five coming in.

Mavericks 111, Magic 95

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Dirk Nowitzki had 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Josh Howard added 25 points to help the Dallas Mavericks beat the Orlando Magic 111-95 on Tuesday night for their eighth straight victory.

For the second consecutive night, the Mavericks led from beginning to end. They pushed the margin to 25 points in the second quarter with a 15-5 run capped by Nowitzki’s three-point play, and kept it around 20 most of the second and third periods. The Magic pulled closer in the third with a 13-4 run, but it happened with the defending Western Conference champions resting Nowitzki.

It was the closest the Magic had been since 8 minutes into the first quarter, and aside from a quick basket to begin the fourth, it was the closest they would come.

Dallas rattled off six unanswered points, including a fast-break dunk from Nowitzki, to put the lead back at 14 and out of Orlando’s reach.

Bulls 94, Hawks 86

CHICAGO – Luol Deng scored 18 points and Kirk Hinrich added 12 points and 12 assists to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 94-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.

P.J. Brown scored a season-high 15 points and had nine rebounds for Chicago, which has won nine straight over the Hawks.

Chicago took control in the third quarter, scoring nine consecutive points to open an 18-point cushion. Andres Nocioni made two free throws at the end of the third, then converted a three-point play to give the Bulls a 77-59 lead early in the fourth. Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 29 points and Marvin Williams added 22. The Hawks have lost three straight after winning three in a row.

Nocioni hit a 3-pointer and Ben Gordon made a three-point play to give Chicago a 62-51 lead with 4:03 left in the third quarter. Gordon scored 10 points in the period and finished with 12.

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