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Suns look for another road win on TSN

The Phoenix Suns try to take a 2-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks tonight, as the clubs meet for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals at American Airlines Center.

Game 3 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled for Sunday at the US Airways Center. Even though the Suns are the higher seed, the Mavericks entered the series with the home-court advantage as a result of their better overall record during the regular season.

On Wednesday, Boris Diaw drained a short jumper with less than a second remaining to lift the second-seeded Suns over No. 4 Dallas, 121-118, in Game 1 of the conference finals at American Airlines Center. Diaw ended with a playoff career-high 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting for the Suns, who rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to steal homecourt advantage in the opener of the set.

Reigning MVP Steve Nash, who spearheaded a 16-4 run to end the game for Phoenix, ended with 27 points and 16 assists, while Shawn Marion added 24 points and 13 boards in Game 1's win for the Suns, who have won the series opener in each round this playoff series.

Devin Harris had a playoff career-high 30 points in the loss for the Mavs, while All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki finished with 25 points and 19 boards for Dallas.

On the injury front, Phoenix guard Raja Bell (mild to moderate tear of left calf) is expected to miss tonight's contest, while forward Josh Howard (bone bruise on right ankle) and center DeSagana Diop (broken nose) are questionable for Dallas.

Dallas has won two straight and seven of its last 10 Game 2s in the postseason, while Phoenix has dropped four straight Game 2s.

This is the second time that these teams have met in the postseason. Last year, the Suns knocked out the Mavericks in six games in the conference semifinals.

Phoenix, which won the Pacific Division during the regular season, has made it to the conference finals for the eighth time in franchise history. The Suns, who also made it to this round in 1976, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1993 and 2005, are 2-5 in the conference finals. They defeated Golden State in seven games in the 1976 West finals and also eliminated Seattle in seven in 1993.

The Suns, who lost in five to San Antonio in last year's conference finals, were pushed to the limit in the first two rounds of this year's playoffs. They came back from a 3-1 deficit and defeated Kobe Bryant and the seventh- seeded Lakers in seven contests during the opening round, and knocked out the sixth-seeded Clippers in seven in the conference semifinals.

Phoenix is 3-4 on the road in this year's postseason.

The road to the West finals has been a wild one for the Mavericks. They swept No. 5 Memphis in the first round and then defeated the top-seeded and defending world champion Spurs in seven games in the semis.

The Mavericks have advanced to the conference finals just two other times in franchise history and have never been to the NBA Finals. They lost to the Lakers in seven games in 1988 and San Antonio in six in 2003.

Dallas is 4-2 as the host in the year's playoffs.

During the regular season, the Mavericks and Suns split four contests. Both teams picked up a win at home and on the road.

Grizzlies snap losing streak against Suns

Mike Miller had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Pau Gasol also scored 14 points to help the Memphis Grizzlies snap a three-game losing streak with a 91-87 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Phoenix lost for the fourth time in its last five.
The Grizzlies built the lead to 11 after opening the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run that included 3-pointers by Eddie Jones and Dahntay Jones.
The Suns erased the advantage with an 11-0 run and tied it at 82 on Shawn Marion's drive with 2:37 left.
But a block by Miller led to Eddie Jones' dunk, and Damon Stoudamire's 20-footer with just over a minute left gave Memphis the lead for good at 88-84. Steve Nash's 3-pointer with 14 seconds left cut it to 89-87, but the Suns could get no closer.
Shane Battier added 13 points for Memphis, while Eddie Jones and Antonio Burks had 12 each.
Eddie House led the Suns in scoring for the second consecutive game, finishing with 21 points. Nash had 19, including 10 in the fourth. Marion had 16 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks, and Boris Diaw had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Phoenix was hampered by 38-percent shooting and 17 turnovers, leading to 18 Memphis points. The Grizzlies had five turnovers.
Notes: Battier returned to action after missing a game because of a jammed right index finger. ... Memphis G Bobby Jackson missed his third straight game with a right hamstring injury. ... The Suns did not shoot a free throw in the first three quarters. Diaw was the first Sun to go to the line, hitting one of two free throws with 10:46 remaining.

Marion, Suns fly by Sonics

Eddie House had another big game off the bench for the Phoenix Suns and James Jones was back to help him.

House scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting Tuesday night and Jones, back after missing four games with a sprained right ankle, added 16 points in the Suns' 111-83 rout of the Seattle SuperSonics.

House, mostly backing up Victoria's Steve Nash at the point, topped 20 points for the third straight game. He'd never had two in a row before this.

"I'm having fun playing basketball," House said. "It's fun coming to work."

Shawn Marion scored 29 points to lead five Phoenix players in double figures.

Boris Diaw had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Jones scored 14 points in the first half, and Raja Bell added 12 points, all in the second half, for Phoenix.

"It felt good, as good as it can be coming back from a severe ankle sprain," Jones said. "The adrenalin was going, the electricity was in the building and my teammates were playing hard.

"I mean, that drives you. I'm pretty sure I'll feel a little bit of something later tonight or tomorrow, but it really doesn't matter, we got a win."

Phoenix also had reserve centre Pat Burke, who had missed three games with a sprained shoulder. He had six points and five rebounds in 17 minutes after Kurt Thomas got in early foul trouble.

The Suns' reserves outscored the Sonics' bench 50-16.

"We've got eight, nine, 10 guys who can play," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Guys who could start for other teams."

The Suns, who had lost four of five, moved into a tie with the Los Angeles Clippers for first in the Pacific Division.

Ray Allen, who scored 26 points for Seattle, made four three-pointers to pass Glen Rice into third on the NBA career list with 1,662. Reggie Evans added a career-high 21 points, 17 in the first half, and grabbed 18 rebounds for Seattle. Rashard Lewis had 16 points.

Allen gave Nash credit, even though the Suns' playmaker had just five points and eight assists.

"I think a lot of people don't appreciate some of the things he does, or some of the things he doesn't do," Allen said. "He didn't have a big night statistically, but he got into the game and just kind of got out of his teammates' way, passed the ball to Shawn or Eddie and let them play.

"When the point guard directs a team like that, they all develop confidence, they all learn to play very unselfishly."

The Suns took the lead for good early in the second and were up by double digits most of the game.

After Allen's three-pointer cut Phoenix's lead to 65-57 with 6:16 left in the third, the Suns scored the next seven points to go ahead 72-57 with 3:40 to play in the quarter.

House scored eight consecutive points midway through the fourth. The first was a three-pointer, followed by a fadeaway 21-footer. He capped his spurt with a steal and a layup. After a time out, Marion stole a pass and his breakaway reverse stuff gave the Suns a 98-78 lead with 5:48 remaining.

"The air just kind of went out of us," Seattle coach Bob Weiss said. "We were uncharacteristic with 20 turnovers and shooting 33 per cent with only 10 assists. That's just not how this team plays."

With Nash and Marion on the bench most of the span, the Suns outscored the Sonics 25-11 to go up 44-31 on Jim Jackson's three-pointer with 7:18 left in the first half.

Phoenix used a 7-2 spurt at the end of the first to take a 29-24 lead, then made six of their first seven shots in the second. Jones scored 11 and House nine in the surge.

A 10-2 Seattle spurt cut the lead to 48-44 after Rashard Lewis made one of two free throws 2:24 before halftime. But the Suns scored the last six points of the half, four by Marion and two by Nash, to go up 54-44 at the break.

Notes: Jones was fouled twice on three-pointers in the first half and made all six free throws . . . Only Reggie Miller (2,560) and Dale Ellis (1,719) have more three-pointers than Allen . . . With eight, Nash failed to reach double figures in assists for the fourth consecutive game, the first time that's happened since he came to Phoenix at the start of last season.

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