PHOENIX (AP) – James Jones scored 22 points, Raja Bell added 21 and the Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to an NBA-best seven straight with a 130-85 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

The Suns, who set a season high for points and margin of victory, have held their last nine opponents under 100 points.

The win moved the Suns within a half-game of the first-place in the Pacific Division.

Shawn Marion added 21 points for the Suns. Steve Nash had 14 points and 12 assists, Kurt Thomas added 12 points and 13 rebounds, Boris Diaw finished with a career-best 13 assists, and Pat Burke had a season-high 12.

The 45-point margin of victory was the Suns’ second-largest at America West Arena, behind a 46-point victory over the Clippers in 2000.

The Suns also finished with a season-high 16 3-pointers, including six by Jones, who matched a career high. Phoenix also had a season-best 15 blocked shots.

Zach Randolph’s 15 points led the beleaguered Trail Blazers, who lost their fifth straight and seventh in eight games.

The Suns, who averaged 120 points and beat Portland by an average of 18 points in three games last season, began piling up big numbers in the first half. At the break, the Suns led 66-47, matching their highest output for a half this season.

Bell keyed Phoenix’s offense, scoring 19 points, one shy of his season high, while the Suns had three other players in double figures – Marion with 12, Jones with 11 and Thomas with 10. The Suns had 18 assists and 25 field goals in the first half.

Phoenix took control of the game early. Trailing 7-4, the Suns scored 10 straight points, including consecutive 3-pointers by Bell, and never trailed again. They attacked the basket, scoring 19 points off fast breaks in the half and extended their lead to 21 points.

Only Telfair, with 12 points, was an offensive force for Portland. The Blazers’ leading scorer, Darius Miles (18.2), was placed on the inactive list Sunday with cartilage damage to his right knee.

The Suns extended their lead to 37 points in the third quarter.

Notes: When Telfair (20 years, 178 days old) and Martell Webster (19 years exactly) started in the backcourt for Portland against Utah on Sunday, they comprised the youngest backcourt in modern NBA history. The previous youngest backcourt had been Cleveland’s LeBron James (19 years, 14 days) and Dajuan Wagner (20 years, 343 days) when the Cavaliers played Seattle on Jan. 13, 2004. … Coaches Nate McMillan of Portland and Mike D’Antoni of Phoenix will be assistants on the USA Men’s senior national team. … Portland has a league-leading five players who jumped from high school to the pros: Telfair, Webster, Darius Miles, Ha Seung Jin and Travis Outlaw.

AP-ES-12-06-05 2332EST


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