Dave Johnson: Wizards Fade Against Suns

Dave Johnson: Wizards Fade Against Suns
December 6, 2010, 3:43 am
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Sunday, December 5, 2010 10:34 p.m.


By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comPHOENIX -- Like the mythical bird in Greek mythology that this city is named after, the Wizards were looking to rise from the ashes of their road woes. Instead Steve Nash had Suns' fans rising to their feet to applaud his assists in a 125-108 victory.

The Wizards are now 0-10 on the road after the Suns broke open a tight entertaining game with a one-sided 31-17 edge in the third quarter. Nash was able to pick apart the Wizards on screen and rolls and dished out 8 of his game and season high 17 assists in that third quarter.

When Nash was not setting up his teammates for slam dunks or layups, he frustrated the Wizards with his ability to score by penetrating to the basket or hitting high-arcing swishes from the outside. Nash was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field and finished with 20 points. It was the most field goal attempts Nash had made without missing in his 15-year career.

Hakim Warrick benefited from Nash's work as he came off the bench to lead the Suns with a season-high 26 points. It was Warrick's dunk off a Nash pass that gave the Suns a 109-95 lead with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter to help extinguish a late surge by the Wizards.

"Warrick came into the game and set screens and then rolled to the basket," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "We did a poor job of handling that at the points of attack and when you make a mistake against a good player like Steve (Nash) he is going to make you pay."

For the second consecutive game Andray Blatche led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points including 10 points in the first quarter when the Wizards actually enjoyed a ten-point lead at 26-16. Nick Young came off the bench and helped the Wizards remain competitive by scoring 12 of his 20 points in the second quarter.

In fact it was a good night for the Wizards bench as Gilbert Arenas in a reserve role contributed 14 points and 6 assists. In his second game back after missing 9 games with a bruised knee Yi Jianlian scored 13 points, while Trevor Booker continued to make an argument for increased playing time with aggressive play and a career high 9 points.

John Wall was certainly up to the challenge of playing Nash and dished out 12 assists. Wall also had 12 points but he struggled in his mid-range game and only shot 4 of 12 from the field. In addition Kirk Hinrich was never able to get in the offensive flow and only had two points on three shot attempts.

At the half there was everything to play for with the Wizards only down 64-61, but they could not find a way to slow down the Suns scoring pace. There were few defensive answers as Nash set up the easy finishes inside or the look from the outside where Jason Richardson added 21 points including 4 of 8 beyond the arc.

The Wizards have lost eight straight games to the Suns overall and have not won in Phoenix since Arenas scored 54 points in an overtime thriller in December of 2006.