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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Clutch Nash sends Suns into playoffs

CHICAGO (AP) Steve Nash was at his darting best in the final two minutes, paving the way for the Phoenix Suns' eighth straight victory on a night they clinched a playoff spot.

News photo
High times: Milwaukee's Jerry Stackhouse goes to the basket against the Clippers on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

In a 111-105 victory over Chicago, Nash had the Bulls guessing: will he shoot, drive, dump it inside or kick it back out? And with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich sidelined in the second half with a sprained ankle, Nash had room to work.

In a frantic final stretch, Nash drove to the lane and turned around for a jumper. Seconds later, he maneuvered his way back to the basket and used his familiar scoop shot to score and start a three-point play.

He found Channing Frye for a clutch tiebreaking 3-pointer with 41.6 seconds left, passed to Grant Hill for a dunk and then hit two free throws to finish off his 22-point, 10-assist night.

All from a guy who had been nursing a sore back and the sniffles.

"If I'm honest, I was taking so many meds for my back and cold that I actually felt a little loopy for most of the game," Nash said. "It helped my back but I was a little dizzy out there. At the end of the game I just tried to hang in there. We had a chance to win and I was fortunate to make some plays when it counted."

Bucks 107, Clippers 89

In Milwaukee, rookie Brandon Jennings scored 17 points and went the extra distance to protect big man Andrew Bogut, leading the Bucks past Los Angeles.

Bogut scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his second straight game since missing one with a sore back, and Jennings, who added six assists and five rebounds, came to his aid late in the third quarter when tensions rose after a spat of rough play.

Pacers 102, Kings 95

In Indianapolis, Danny Granger scored 25 of his 33 points in the second half, leading the Pacers to their eighth straight home win.

Troy Murphy added 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Roy Hibbert and Earl Watson each scored 10 for Indiana, which has won six of seven to improve to 28-47.

Sacramento's Rookie of the Year candidate Tyreke Evans, who missed the previous five games due to a concussion, had 17 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

Rockets 98, Wizards 94

In Houston, rookie Chase Budinger hit a go-ahead jump shot with 28 seconds remaining and made two free throws and the Rockets escaped with a win over Washington.

The win breaks a four-game skid for the Rockets and extends Washington's team-record losing streak to 16 games.

Thunder 111, 76ers 93

In Philadelphia, Kevin Durant had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Jeff Green added 16 points and Oklahoma City cruised against the Sixers.

Nenad Krstic added 14 points and Russell Westbrook had 10 points and 14 assists for the Thunder (45-28).

James Harden also had 12 points and Serge Ibaka 10 for Oklahoma City, which is nearing its first playoff appearance since 2004-05 as the Seattle SuperSonics.

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