PHOENIX – Steve Nash scored a season-high 31 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, and the well-rested Phoenix Suns beat the tired Indiana Pacers 109-91 Wednesday night for their fourth straight victory.

The Suns have the NBA’s longest current winning streak, and held an opponent under 100 points for the sixth straight game.

Shawn Marion added 21 points and 12 rebounds, Boris Diaw scored a season high-tying 17, Kurt Thomas had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Eddie House scored 10 points.

Jermaine O’Neal topped the Pacers with 25 points and nine rebounds, Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 16, Fred Jones 13 and Ron Artest 12.

Nash, who finished with nine assists and eight rebounds, had a sensational first half, hitting all five of his 3-point attempts and scoring 18 points, to go with six assists and four rebounds as the Suns built a 61-44 lead. Phoenix’s first-half total one point more than the Pacers allowed in an 84-60 win at Utah on Tuesday night.

The Suns, who hadn’t played since Friday, took advantage of the road-weary Pacers, constantly pushing the ball and capitalizing on Indiana’s inability to get back on defense. Overall, the Suns hit 24-of-47 shots (51 percent) and outrebounded the Pacers 23-18. Marion also had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in the half.

The Suns never trailed during the first 24 minutes, and an 18-7 run over the final 4:31 of the first period gave them a 35-17 lead at the end of the quarter. They increased the advantage to as much as 20 in the second period. Indians then closed within 10, but Nash connected on two 3s and Raja Bell hit one in the final 4:15, restoring the commanding advantage before halftime.

Indiana did not attempt a free throw in the half.

Phoenix hiked its lead to as much as 34 points in the third quarter, with the help of a 17-0 run over a 5:15 span midway through the period. Marion began the run with a slam dunk and finished it with two free throws, while Nash hit his record 3-pointer. No player other than O’Neal, who had eight points in the third, scored for the Pacers until Jones made a layup with 2:42 remaining in the period.

Indiana never got closer than 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Notes: Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was ejected early in the fourth quarter after incurring two technical fouls. … Artest and O’Neal are both averaging more than 20 points per game. No Pacers teammates have averaged over 20 since Billy Knight (26.6) and John Williamson (20.7) in 1976-77, Indiana’s first season in the NBA. … James Jones played against Indiana for the first time since Phoenix acquired him from the Pacers for a second-round draft choice in August and did not score, missing five shots. … Artest leads the league in steals, while Nash is the NBA leader in assists and free throw percentage.

AP-ES-11-30-05 2331EST


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