Energetic Nash has way with Sixers

Steve Nash poured in 21 points and tied his season high with 20 assists to lead the Phoenix Suns over the Philadelphia 76ers 119-115 on Monday night.

Scores 21 points, matches season high with 20 assists for 7-1 Suns

Steve Nash heard the whispers in the off-season, but chose to ignore them.

Opting to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns sure looks to have been the right decision for the all-star point guard.

Jason Richardson scored 29 points, Steve Nash added 21 points and tied his season high with 20 assists as the Phoenix Suns beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-115 on Monday night.

"I was a free agent and it was natural to explore my options," Nash said. "Some people said I was a little crazy going back to Phoenix because I wouldn't have as good a chance to win. I liked the team and coaches and I was comfortable."

Was he ever.

The Victoria native registered the first 20-20 in points and assists in the league since he accomplished the feat in 2005-06 — a 28-point, 22-assist performance Jan. 2, 2006, at New York. Those 22 assists still represent a career high.

Pretty energized

"I felt good and had energy, even after a game last night," Nash said. "I felt pretty energized in the fourth quarter when we made our run and pulled away."

Nash, who signed a two-year, $22-million-US contract extension in the summer, turned in another impressive performance after putting up 11 points and 17 assists in Sunday's 102-90 win at Washington.

Nash sparked the Suns with nine points in the third quarter as they outscored Philadelphia 30-20 to get within 86-84.

With the score tied 106-106, Dudley grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. The Suns then scored five of the next seven points as Richardson converted a three-point play and added a layup — both on assists from Nash — to take a 113-108 lead with 1:38 left and seal the game.

"That was a big sequence for us," Amare Stoudemire said. "It got us a big win to finish the trip. The last game of a trip is one you always want to get."

The Suns eclipsed the 100-point barrier for the eighth straight game to open a season, which hadn't happened since the 1990-91 season.

Jared Dudley contributed 18, Stoudemire added 17, Grant Hill had 11 and Channing Frye 10 for the high-flying Suns, who entered the game averaging a league-high 109.7 points per game.

Phoenix, which hit 15-of-30 three-pointers, has won three straight and finished its five-game road trip at 4-1. The Suns are 7-1 overall.

Andre Iguodala scored 24 points, Marreese Speights added 20, Thaddeus Young had 15 and Lou Williams 13 for the Sixers (3-4). Elton Brand also had 10 for Philadelphia.

"It's a little frustrating not to get the win," Brand said. "We need Ws."

The Sixers took a 102-94 lead on a basket by Speights with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter. But the Suns responded with a quick 6-0 run on a pair of three-pointers by Dudley to close within 102-100 less than a minute later.

"We should have had it," Iguodala said. "We were up and couldn't hold it."

Iguodala scored 12 points by halftime and helped the Sixers to a 66-54 advantage thanks to 61 per cent shooting. Philadelphia made 14-of-21 from the field in the second quarter and led by as many as 16.

"We have to play smarter and harder for 24 more minutes," Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said.