Suns shake, bake Mavs


PHOENIX (AP) – Raja Bell supplied the grit, and his Phoenix teammates took care of the offense.

As a result, the Suns are even again with the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals.

Leandro Barbosa scored 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting and the Suns, regrouping after a lifeless home loss in Game 3 two nights earlier, ran away from the Mavericks 106-86 on Tuesday night. Tied at 2-2, the series returns to Dallas for Game 5 on Thursday night.Boris Diaw added 20 points, including a pair of emphatic fourth-quarter dunks that helped the Suns build a 25-point lead.

Steve Nash had 21 points and eight assists, and Shawn Marion scored 15 points.

Bell made a surprise start for the Suns after missing the last two games with a slight tear in his left calf. He had only nine points but gave some much-needed intensity to the team in 32 minutes of play.

Dirk Nowitzki managed only 11 points for the Mavericks on 3-for-13 shooting, breaking a string of 42 games when he’s scored at least 20 points. It was the first time he’s scored fewer than 25 points in the team’s eight games against Phoenix this season.Josh Howard led the Mavericks with 16 but left with an apparent shin injury with 5:47 to play. Phoenix never trailed after the first quarter. The Mavericks stayed close, despite the shooting woes of Nowitzki, until the Suns blew it open with a 20-4 outburst at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. Jason Terry’s second 3-pointer of the quarter cut the Suns’ lead to 67-65 with 3:49 to play in the third. But Dallas went cold and the Suns finished the quarter with a 12-2 run. Five Phoenix players scored in the surge, capped by Marion’s stuff with 37 seconds to go that put the Suns ahead 79-67.

entering the fourth quarter.

Diaw stuffed over Nowitzki for a three-point play to start the fourth quarter to make it 82-67. Another dunk by Diaw ended the surge and put Phoenix firmly in control for good, 87-69, with 10:14 to play.

AP-ES-05-30-06 2344EDT