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Nash fully exploits absence of Billups

January 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

Steve Nash isn't going to complain about getting a win at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

But he feels the victory deserves an asterisk because of the injury to Detroit Pistons All-Star guard Chauncey Billups.

"It's not like we are going home feeling like we beat the Pistons," Nash said after the Phoenix Suns' 108-101 victory Sunday. "We won the game, but we know they didn't have their full team. It's simple math. They still have a lot of talented players, but Chauncey's one of the best in the league."

Billups strained a calf muscle at the end of Friday's one-point loss to Indiana, and Nash took full advantage of his absence, finishing with 35 points and 12 assists.

"He's been taking over a lot of games lately, and he did it again today," Phoenix Coach Mike D'Antoni said of Nash.

Amare Stoudemire added a season-high 31 points for the Suns and had 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.

"We're going to win a lot of games when Amare plays that kind of defense," Nash said. "He has a lot of pride and he wants to grow as a defender."

After the Pistons erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Nash made consecutive jumpers to put Phoenix back ahead, 95-91, with 4:10 to play.

Detroit got within 101-99 on Carlos Delfino's layup with 1:39 left, but he missed a potential go-ahead three-point shot on the next possession, and Nash's three-point play put the game away.

"If you ask me to be a coach and tell you how to defend him, I don't know," the Pistons' Tayshaun Prince said of Nash. "Not him."

The loss was Detroit's third straight.

Raja Bell of the Suns was ejected when he was given his second technical of the game after a fourth-quarter bumping incident with Richard Hamilton. Hamilton, who scored 31 points for Detroit, also received a technical on the play.

Flip Murray, getting more minutes in place of Billups, set season highs of 18 points and seven assists, but Rasheed Wallace scored only 10 points on four-for-17 shooting, including going 0 for 7 from three-point range.


Houston 111, Memphis 109 -- Tracy McGrady scored a season-high 38 points and had nine rebounds at Houston to help the Rockets win their third straight and improve to 3-1 since Yao Ming's leg injury.

Houston led, 106-97, after a 12-2 run before Memphis answered with a last-ditch 11-4 spurt, but the Grizzlies could get no closer.

Mike Miller matched a season high with seven three-point shots and scored 32 points for Memphis in its 12th loss in 14 games and first under interim Coach Tony Barone.


Dallas 89, Denver 85 -- Playing without Dirk Nowitzki (sinus infection), Josh Howard and Jason Terry scored nine points apiece in a fourth quarter in which the visiting Mavericks outscored the Nuggets, 26-16, for their 10th win in a row.

Denver's last lead was 82-81 with 2:32 left.

Howard finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds. Terry added 21 points.

Allen Iverson had 28 points and eight assists for Denver, and Earl Boykins added 20 points.


San Antonio 95, Atlanta 81 -- The Spurs put the game away with a 10-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Hawks for the ninth straight time at San Antonio dating to Feb. 15, 1997.

Tony Parker scored 27 points and Tim Duncan added 17 despite playing with stomach flu that has affected at least five Spurs in the past week.

Joe Johnson scored 23 points for the Hawks.


Seattle 101, Boston 95 -- The SuperSonics led by as many as 17 points at Seattle in handing the Celtics their seventh straight loss.

The SuperSonics, however, still had to hold off a late Celtics rally by making all eight of their free throws in the final minute.

Chris Wilcox scored a season-high 24 points for Seattle. Damien Wilkins added 20 points.

Tony Allen had 23 points for the Celtics.

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