Phoenix Suns off to best NBA start in 37 years

PHOENIX – The triple-digit scores, and the victories, keep piling up for the Phoenix Suns.

The latest was a 121-100 thumping of the Orlando Magic on Monday night, improving the Suns’ record to 18-3, the best start in the 37-year history of the franchise.

“Their record is not a fluke,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said. “They’re that good. They actually put five guys on the floor who are capable of scoring 30 points on any given night.”

The Suns, the NBA’s highest-scoring team by a long shot, kept the throttle down even though Steve Nash was on the bench for long stretches with foul trouble.

His backup, young Brazilian Leandro Barbosa, scored 19 points in 19 minutes.

“We’ve been trying to encourage him and get his confidence going,” Nash said, “and tonight he was terrific.”

In other games, it was: Miami 106, Washington 83; Cleveland 92, Memphis 86; Dallas 94, Chicago 93; and the Celtics beating the Clippers 134-127 in double overtime.

Phoenix has won 14 of 15 for the first time in eight seasons.

Quentin Richardson had 26 points, including six 3-pointers, as the NBA’s highest-scoring team scored at least 120 points for the fourth time this season.

Amare Stoudemire added 21 points, Shawn Marion had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Joe Johnson scored 18.

Grant Hill scored 23 points, Steve Francis 18 and Cuttino Mobley 15 for Orlando. Dwight Howard had 18 rebounds but was just 2-for-10 shooting.

The Magic played for the second night in a row, while Phoenix had been idle since Friday.

“We knew that was to our advantage,” D’Antoni said. “We were sitting here waiting for them. We wanted to keep the pace up. We thought their jump shots would fall a little short at the end of the game, which they did.”

Nash was sitting with four fouls when the Suns outscored the Magic 18-8 to go up 88-77 on Marion’s two free throws with 45.3 seconds left in the third quarter. Barbosa scored five, including a 3-pointer, in the surge, which came after Orlando had cut the lead to 70-69.

Richardson sank two 3-pointers and Nash one in an 11-5 spurt to start the fourth quarter to give Phoenix a 99-84 lead with 9:16 to go. The Magic never got closer than 13 again.

Heat 106, Wizards 83

Shaquille O’Neal scored a season-high 40 points, and Miami overcame the loss of leading scorer Dwyane Wade for its fifth straight win.

Wade sprained his left ankle grabbing a loose ball with 3:18 left in the first half, and did not return. A Heat spokesman said Wade’s second-half absence was “more precautionary than anything else.”

Gilbert Arenas scored 18 points for Washington.

Cavaliers 92, Grizzlies 86

LeBron James had 31 points, eight assists and seven steals for Cleveland.

Jeff McInnis added 18 points, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Pau Gasol led the Grizzlies with 19 points.

Mavericks 94, Bulls 93

Michael Finley hit the winning shot with 3.2 seconds left and scored 27 points for Dallas.

Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points for the Mavericks despite a poor-shooting night. He was 4-of-18 from the floor and 13-of-19 from the free-throw line.

Eddy Curry scored 20 points for the Bulls.

Celtics 134, Clippers 127, 2OT

Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis each scored 34 points as Boston overcame a 12-point deficit.

Davis had 19 points in the fourth quarter and seven in the second extra session to rally the Celtics.

Corey Maggette led the Clippers with a career-high 38 points, while Elton Brand added 24 points and 18 rebounds.

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