WASHINGTON (AP) Last week, Steve Nash watched his potential game-winning 20-footer hit the rim twice and pop out at the buzzer. This time, Caron Butler's 3-pointer that would have tied the game hit the rim and bounced away with 10 seconds remaining.
Too bad the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards only play twice a year.
Two of the top scoring teams in the NBA put on another entertaining show Wednesday night. Shawn Marion scored 28 points, Nash had 19 points and 16 assists, and the Suns rallied from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 104-99 victory.
"Always fun to watch the two teams play," said Antawn Jamison, who scored 19 points for the Wizards. "Both teams love to get up and run, put the ball in the basket. Both meetings you definitely got your money's worth. We stole one, they came out and stole one on the road, too. It's one of those things you've just got to put it behind you and get ready for the next game."
The Suns were almost apologetic after the victory, which split the season series after their 112-111 home loss last Friday. Their play is still a bit ragged without injured center Amare Stoudemire, even though they are seven games over .500.
"We've just got to force the tempo of the game into playoff style of play," said Marion, who went 12-for-16 from the field.
"We aren't playing like we usually play. This ain't us, honestly. Even when we were winning we weren't pushing the ball the way we're capable of. ... Steve can't do it all by himself. He gets tired out there, just like I do.
"Other guys have got to step up and push the ball."Marion scored nine points in the final period, including an alley-oop dunk, a three-point play and a driving dunk that kept the Suns close after the Wizards took an 88-80 lead.
Butler scored 22 points, and Gilbert Arenas struggled to score 16 on 7-for-23 shooting for the Wizards, who lost for the first time in four games since moving Butler to the starting lineup. Chucky Atkins scored all of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. "The ball bounces our way sometimes," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I watch the tape, and last time the ball goes to them. This time, it goes to us. It's like, thank God, the ball goes in and comes out. Arenas missed shots."
The game featured two of the five NBA teams averaging more than 100 points, and it didn't disappoint. The score was tied at 50 at halftime, neither team had a double-digit lead in the game. The Wizards were ultimately undone by seven fourth-quarter turnovers. "We just had some poor possessions offensively down the stretch," coach Eddie Jordan said. "The last four, five possessions, we didn't have to make a big play, we just had to make normal plays, and we didn't come up with it."
The Suns didn't go ahead in the fourth quarter until Boris Diaw chased down an offensive rebound and passed to Nash, who drove for a layup that made the score 100-99 with 1:11 to play. The teams exchanged turnovers, and then Diaw blocked Arenas' shot in the paint, leading to a fast-break alley-oop from Nash to Marion that put the Suns ahead by three with 25 seconds left.
Arenas missed a 3-pointer that could have tied the game, but Diaw was called for a loose ball foul on the rebound, giving the Wizards a final chance to tie that fell short when Butler missed his 3-pointer.
"It felt real good," Butler said. "I got my legs under me, I followed through, I really wanted that shot. Chucky did a great job of finding me, and it just fell a little short."