Suns sweep thwarted by Iguodala

By DANNY GRIFFITHS

Last updated at 13:45 01 March 2007


Andre Iguodala prevented the Phoenix Suns from making a clean sweep of their road trips to Eastern Conference teams by leading the unheralded Philadelphia 76ers to a surprise victory last night.

He sank 24 points and Willie Green added 20 for the Sixers, who never trailed in their 99-94 victory over their Western Conference opponents.

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"We didn't want them to complete the sweep against us," Iguodala said.

The Suns won their first 14 on the road against the East and only needed victory against the lowly 76ers to become the first team to sweep its road games against the opposite conference.

It was also the first time this season Phoenix have not held the lead at some stage during a game.

The Suns playing were without Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw but Philadelphia still had plenty to smile about as they recorded the most impressive win of what's mostly been a miserable season.

Amare Stoudemire had 31 points and 14 rebounds for the Suns while Steve Nash added 23 points despite hurting an ankle and Raja Bell contributed 13 more.

Marion sat out his first game of the season because of a bruised right hand and bruised left quadriceps suffered against Indiana on Tuesday.

Diaw had back spasms but Nash does not expect his ankle to cause him any outings.

"Obviously we missed Marion. We missed Diaw, too," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "The focus wasn't there and we got a little sloppy at the end."

So the Suns matched the only other team that finished with one road loss against the opposite conference - the 1982-83 Sixers who went on to win the NBA championship.

And the star point guard on that title team? Current Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks.

"It was Eastern Conference pride you know?" Kyle Korver joked. "Whatever's left of it."

The Sixers came out in the first playing more like Phoenix, surprising the Suns with one of their highest-scoring quarters of the season and they never looked back after chalking up 35 points.

Gerald Green scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Boston Celtics to a 102-94 victory over the New York Knicks, who were playing for the first time since learning Jamal Crawford will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

He scored seven straight points to restore the lead after Boston blew a 23-point, first-half advantage on a night the Celtics paid tribute to five-time All-Star Dennis Johnson, who died this week aged 52.

Green, who won the NBA slam dunk contest over All-Star weekend, said: "I don't really consider myself a dunker. There's more to my game besides dunking. I just want to be labelled as a good player."

Al Jefferson scored 26 points with nine rebounds and Paul Pierce added 24 points for Boston, who have won two in a row for the first time since December.

After that, they lost 25 of 27 games, including 18 straight losses that set a franchise record and then nearly matched the NBA record of 24 consecutive reversals.

"Two games is good, we want to build on it and just get better," Pierce said. "There's teams that are battling for playoff position. The Knicks are trying to get into the playoffs - we want to spoil their fun."

Quentin Richardson scored 24 and Stephon Marbury added 23 for the Knicks, who entered the night in tenth place, two games out of the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

They trailed 53-30 near the end of the second but took their first lead at 79-78 early in the fourth.

"We don't quit," Richardson said. "But it's not a good recipe. You can't do that in the NBA. It's too hard to come back against these teams, any team in the NBA, when you're down 20 points."

Ben Gordon did his scoring in the first quarter, then watched the rookies take over from there as the Chicago Bulls pummelled the Golden State Warriors 113-83.

Gordon scored 16 of his 22 points in the first 12 minutes and first-year forward Tyrus Thomas tied a career high with 14 points.

Thabo Sefolosha, another rookie, scored a career-high 19 points and reserve Adrian Griffin added a season-high 17 for the Bulls, who bounced back after dropping consecutive games.

Gordon was impressed with the performances of Thomas and Sefolosha and said: "They are starting to play a lot better.

"Obviously, they started off a little bit slower. Just the whole rookie process, but they are starting to play better now. We need both of those guys big time down the stretch, so it's good to see them come around."

Leading 62-58 at the half, the Bulls pushed the ball up the floor and opened the third quarter by outscoring the Warriors 20-6.

Thomas started the second half after coming off the bench to begin the game. He had a steal and then Gordon rewarded him on the other end with a behind-the-back pass that Thomas finished with a dunk. Kirk Hinrich followed with a three-pointer to put Chicago up 72-60.

Later, Gordon's jumper gave Chicago a 82-64 lead with 5:55 left in the third quarter and it was all plain sailing from there.

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