Hill, Nash push Suns past hapless CavsBy TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011
CLEVELAND (AP)—The Suns’ old man has lost a step, maybe two. But don’t let his age fool you.
The 38-year-old scored 27 points, Steve Nash(notes) added 15 and 15 assists and the Phoenix Suns won their fourth straight, 106-98 on Wednesday night over the fallen-to-the-bottom Cleveland Cavaliers, who have lost 14 in a row and 24 of their last 25.
Hill followed a 25-point performance in a win at New York on Monday by adding 12 rebounds, finishing 10 of 18 from the field and making all seven free throws in 41 minutes. Not too bad for a guy who has been written off more than once during a 15-year NBA career.
He recently missed two games with a sore knee and ankle, and joked that he wouldn’t mind playing a less grueling schedule somewhere.
“Maybe if there’s a lockout, I can play in Europe once a week,” he cracked. “I might be able to excel over there.”
He’s still doing fine over here.
Vince Carter(notes) scored just three points for Phoenix, but they came on a huge 3-pointer from the corner with 2:35 left as the Suns, who led by 17 in the third quarter, were barely holding off a furious comeback by the Cavs. Cleveland was only down by five when Carter knocked down the game’s biggest shot.
“I’m going to shoot the ball when I’m open,” said Carter, who had a season-high 29 in the win over the Knicks. “It doesn’t matter either way. I had the shot in the corner and I was going to take it.”
Antawn Jamison(notes) scored 23 and J.J. Hickson(notes) had 16 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland, winless since Dec. 18 and now an NBA worst 8-33. The Cavs were at least more competitive than during a just completed five-game road trip, when they lost by an average of 26.2 points.
“Something to build on,” Jamison said. “But there’s no doubt that this is tough.”
The Suns, coming off an impressive start to a five-game road trip, came to the right place to keep things going.
Quicken Loans Arena has changed and so have the Cavs, who have rapidly plunged from elite status. Their 14-game slide is the league’s longest since Washington lost 16 in a row last March. Cleveland is the first team to post a 1-24 stretch since Miami in 2008, according to STATS LLC, and the Cavs could become the first team to have the league’s worst record one season after having its best.
Phoenix led by 13 entering the fourth but fell flat. The Cavs raised their defensive intensity and closed to 93-90 on Jamario Moon’s(notes) 3-pointer with 6:25 remaining. But Hill hit a clutch jumper just before the 24-second clock expired and Nash’s basket made it 97-90.
After Hickson made two free throws, Carter, who missed his first five shots and was unusually passive on offense, drained his 3 to put the Suns ahead 100-92. Nash then put the Cavs away with two free throws and a bucket in the final 2:10.
“Vince certainly hit a big one when we needed one,” said Hill, who believes the Suns are beginning to come together following the trade that brought them Carter, Marcin Gortat(notes) and Mickael Pietrus(notes) from Orlando. “I’m starting to get more comfortable with the new guys and my role.”
Their roster ravaged by injuries, the Cavs got more bad news when they learned starting guard Mo Williams(notes) will be sidelined indefinitely with a lingering hip injury. Williams received a cortisone shot and doctors have recommended extended rest.
The team did not put an official timeline on his return. Williams said he’ll be out at least “a couple weeks” but will not need surgery. That’s one positive for the Cavs, who will play the remainder of the season without center Anderson Varejao(notes) (torn ankle tendon) and are still missing guards Anthony Parker(notes) (back) and Christian Eyenga(notes) (ankle) along with forwards Leon Powe(notes) (knee surgery) and Joey Graham(notes) (leg).
“We’ve got a lot of young guys out there,” Sessions said. “We just have to build on it. We’re professionals and we just have to keep working.”
Notes: Cleveland hosts Milwaukee on Friday. The team record for consecutive losses is 19. … At this point in 2010, the Cavs were 31-11. … Gibson was lucky to escape injury after crashing hard into the padded basket stanchion while defending Hill on a breakaway.