Shawn Marion had 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Joe Johnson scored 26 points to help the Suns, playing their fourth road game in five nights, beat Magic 118-116 on Saturday night. The Suns were 4-1 on the trip to improve to 29-8 on the road.
Steve Nash added 23 points and 12 assists for the Suns, coming off a 125-115 loss in Miami on Friday night. Phoenix (52-17) is a half-game behind Miami (53-17 after a loss in Charlotte on Saturday night) in the race for the NBA’s best record.
“We were a little flat tonight, but we had some good spurts and found a way to win, which is what good teams do,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t think we were tired because you can’t be tired and play as hard as we did at the end. You’re going to have games like this and we’ll just take the win.”
Grant Hill led Orlando with 26 points, DeShawn Stevenson added 22, and Steve Francis, playing for the first time following a three-game suspension, had 17 points and nine assists. The Magic have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
“You’ve got to take something from every situation—win or lose—and we didn’t give up, which is something we can definitely build on,” Magic coach Chris Jent said.
Nash hit a jumper with 42 seconds left to give Phoenix a 118-112 lead, but Francis made two free throws to cut the margin to four and Hill made a layup off a steal to make it 118-116 with 30 seconds to go.
Nash threw the ball away on the Suns’ next possession to give Orlando a chance to tie or win, but Jameer Nelson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We looked like a team that was about to quit in the first half, but we challenged ourselves at halftime and it shows the character of this team how we played the second half,” Nash said.
Phoenix outscored Orlando 22-11 in the last 5 minutes of the third quarter to take a 93-85 lead. The Suns maintained the eight-point advantage for most of the fourth period until Orlando finally got in striking range when Francis hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 112-107 with 3:41 left.
“We were in it until the last shot and hopefully we can continue this kind of effort,” Francis said. “If we played hard the last 14 games, someone is going to give us a break.”
Francis was suspended for kicking a photographer during a game in Seattle. … Orlando’s Stacey Augmon scored 13 points, his first double-figure game since Jan. 10 against Boston. … Marion has double-doubles in nine straight games.