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Nash's 17 assists help Suns rout Bucks 109-93

By Bob Baum

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 8 2012 9:53 p.m. MST

Milwaukee Bucks center Drew Gooden, left, and Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat, right, of Poland, scramble to gain control of a loose ball in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in Phoenix.

Paul Connors, Associated Press

PHOENIX — The Suns have dominated the Milwaukee Bucks in Phoenix for almost a quarter of a century. Sunday night was more of the same.

Short-handed and weary at the end of an 0-5 road trip, the Bucks were ripe for a rout, and that's exactly what happened. Steve Nash had 17 assists and 10 points in 27 minutes and the Suns rolled to a 109-93 victory over a Milwaukee team missing four players.

The Suns beat the Bucks in Phoenix for the 24th consecutive time, the NBA's second-longest active streak behind San Antonio's 27 wins in a row at home over Golden State.

"One thing you can account for is that they have had good teams here. I was a part of a few of them," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "That is the first thing, and to a period of that time the Bucks weren't very good at the same time. That long of a streak, though, you would think that at some point that things would come back in your favor and win one. It just hasn't happened."

Nash had the Phoenix offense clicking from the start. And with the Suns shooting 62 percent through three quarters (58 percent overall), the assists mounted for the 37-year-old two-time MVP point guard.

"Steve is doing Steve, man," teammate Channing Frye said. "Everybody said, 'Aw, he looks old and he needs to this or that.' You can't say nothing about him. He gets the job done. It's up to us to take a lot of pressure off him and continue to challenge ourselves to let him be the best he can be by making shots."

Marcin Gortat scored 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting to lead the Suns. Frye came out of a shooting slump to go 6 of 7, making all four 3-point tries, and finished with 16 points. Seven players, including all five starters, reached double figures for the Suns.

"Obviously, this is the worst defense we've played all year," Skiles said.

Nash said the Suns are beginning to find their rhythm.

"We are making open shots. We are also getting a little better pace and tempo throughout the game, a little bit of cohesion," he said. "It is taking us some time and I think you could have predicted that, but I think we are getting better."

Tobias Harris scored 15 for the Bucks, who last won in Phoenix on Feb. 21, 1987.

Grant Hill and Shannon Brown added 14 points apiece, Markieff Morris 13 and Jared Dudley 11 for Phoenix, which has won two in a row for the first time this season. The Suns made 9 of 20 3-pointers, 3 of 3 by the rookie Morris, who had a team-high 10 rebounds.

Shaun Livingston scored 12 for Milwaukee, and Ersan Ilyasova and Jon Leuer had 11 apiece. The Bucks again were without Andrew Bogut, who was returning from Australia after attending to personal matters and is expected to play Tuesday against San Antonio. Luc Mbah a Mouti (right knee tendinitis), Beno Udrih (left shoulder strain) and Mike Dunleavy (groin) also sat out.

Both of the latest Suns victories were one-sided affairs against worn-out teams playing the second of back-to-back nights. On Friday, the Suns routed Portland 102-77 a night after the Trail Blazers had beaten the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bucks lost to the Clippers 92-86 in Los Angeles on Saturday and played for the fifth time in eight nights.

Nash had 10 assists in the first quarter, two shy of his franchise record, as the Suns shot 68 percent (13 for 19) but led only 30-25.

Milwaukee cut it to 45-43 when Larry Sanders dribbled the length of the court for a dunk with 4:09 left in the half. Consecutive 3-pointers by Frye, who was 4 for 23 on 3s entering the game (17 percent), ignited a 10-2 run that put Phoenix up 55-45 after Gortat took a pass from Dudley for a layup. The Suns led 57-47 at the break.

Phoenix turned the game into a rout with a 17-4 third-quarter outburst, capped by Dudley's 17-footer that put the Suns up 87-60 with 3½ minutes left in the quarter. Nash had three straight assists in the run — for a layup by Gortat, a three-point play by Hill and Hill's 3-pointer.

Nash went to the bench for good with 2:56 left in the third quarter and his team leading 87-62. It was the second game in a row in which he was able to sit out the final quarter. He made all seven of his shots and had nine assists in Friday night's win over Portland.

"First of all, I have to say, 'Let's not get excited,'" Gortat said. "This is just two games and right now we are playing good basketball."

Notes: Four players in the game — Robin Lopez and Morris of the Suns and Brandon Jennings and Ilyasova of Milwaukee — were not born the last time the Bucks won in Phoenix. ... The 24-game home streak for Phoenix matched a franchise record set against Sacramento from 1988-98. ... The Bucks trailed at halftime for only the second time this season.

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