PHOENIX (AP) – With no playoffs in sight, the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns had to find some other motivation in their second meeting.
As it turned out, the game was enough.
"We will get better as a team," said Shawn Marion, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in the Suns' 101-95 win Monday night.
"Going out of this season and into the next, this will be something that we work on."
The Suns nearly blew a 15-point lead before toughening late in the game.
"I thought that we played hard, but we still had some spurts where we let them back in the game," Joe Johnson said.
Johnson had 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Suns to their fourth win in seven games since they were eliminated from playoff contention.
Amare Stoudemire added 15, Leandro Barbosa 12 and Antonio McDyess had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Washington's Larry Hughes scored 32 points and Gilbert Arenas added 30, but made only one of three free throws when Barbosa fouled out trying to stop his 3-point attempt with 31 seconds to go.
It was Washington's 10th loss in 12 games.
Arenas' misses left the Suns leading 94-89 and allowed Phoenix to cruise on a free throw by Marion, two by Casey Jacobsen and four by Johnson.
"That could have changed the game a little bit," Arenas said.
"You know, maybe we didn't have to go for some of the 3s, or we could have played straight defense without fouling."
Marion had two of his blocks in the final 3:30 and also forced two missed shots with his defense before the Wizards' Etan Thomas went to the line for two foul shots with 44 seconds remaining.
Barbosa responded with two free throws with 40.5 seconds left, opening a 94-88 lead and setting the stage for Arenas' misfires at the other end.
The Suns started the 6-foot-9 McDyess at the post because of injuries to Jake Voskuhl and Jahidi White, their only true centers.
Washington played without swingman Jerry Stackhouse, absent for undisclosed personal reasons.
"We just needed that third man outside of Gilbert and Larry to score the ball for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.
"We just didn't have it."
Washington trailed by 46-31 with 3:18 left in the second quarter, but got within seven points three times in the third.
The last time, Jared Jeffries made a free throw with 5:44 remaining, but missed the second one.
Marion got the rebound and made a 22-footer at the other end, opening a 61-52 lead 16 seconds later.
The Suns managed a six-point lead near the end of the first quarter, then went on a 20-11 surge through most of the second, taking a 44-29 lead on Barbosa's 3-pointer with 4:53 remaining.
Hughes had 19 points by halftime, finishing with a three-point play that trimmed Washington's deficit to 46-36 with 1:57 to go.
"We just weren't in harmony at all," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.
"We played well in spurts in the first half.
Then we got ahead and started worrying about ourselves instead of about the team."
Notes: White has a bone bruise in his right knee and will miss at least two games.
Voskuhl's has a foot injury and is day-to-day.
Suns G Howard Eisley missed his third straight game, and D'Antoni said his season may be over because of a hernia.
Washington played minus Gs Steve Blake (thumb) and Juan Dixon (ankle).
Wizards C Kwame Brown sprained his left ankle with 7:12 left in the third quarter and did not return.
Johnson has played at least 40 minutes in 28 consecutive games.