Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/31/13
PHOENIX -- Steve Nash left a loser in his return to Phoenix. The Phoenix Suns, down 13 points in the third quarter, chipped away at the lead, helped by the fumble-fingered Los Angeles Lakers, then pulled the game out at the end with a 92-86 win Wednesday night. Michael Beasley broke an 86-86 tie with a driving layup with 44 seconds left. Then Kobe Bryant missed on a drive of his own. The Suns (16-30) hit their free throws to seal it. The Lakers (20-26), who committed 20 turnovers, saw their modest three-game win streak broken while extending their road losing skid to eight. Nash's game wasn't the same as when he played with the Suns. Bryant continued to do much of the ball distribution in the Lakers' loss. Bryant had 17 points and nine assists. Nash had 11 points and two assists. Beasley, in his best game for the Suns, had a season-high 27 points. After an evenly played first half, which ended 41-41, the Lakers seemed to break the game open in the third quarter. Metta World Peace and Nash nailed 3-pointers, Dwight Howard hit a pair of inside hoops, then World Peace scored on a layup to give the Lakers a decisive 64-51 lead. The Suns gradually battled back, though, with Jared Dudley hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game, 82-82, with 3:37 left. The Suns, who hadn't played since Sunday night, seemed more energized at the start (the Lakers had won Tuesday night at home vs. the New Orleans Hornets). They led 26-22 after one quarter, led by Beasley's seven points, and managed the halftime tie. The Suns are 3-2 under new coach Lindsey Hunter. Nash played for the Suns for 10 seasons in two stints; he was drafted by them in 1996, but had little future in Arizona after the Suns acquired Jason Kidd late that year. He returned as a free agent in mid-2004. “A special, special place,” Nash said of his former basketball home. NOTES: Nash's 6,597 assists, 1,051 3-pointers made and .907 free-throw percentage are tops in Suns history. His 744 games played are No. 3. His parents live in Phoenix part-time, part-time in Victoria, B.C. ... Nash's introduction drew an ear-splitting roar. The Suns then gave Nash a video tribute during the first timeout. The Lakers stopped talking in their huddle so they could watch. ... The game also marked Mike D'Antoni's return for his second team (the Knicks, also) since departing the Suns. ... Earl Clark scored, a 2009 first-round draft pick of the Suns, had five points and eight rebounds following a 20-point (8-for-11 shooting) 12-rebound game in a win over Hornets. The 20 points were two short of a career high. "I always knew I was good enough to make a team," Clark said. "It feels good to be on a team that's relying on you." Clark always had enough defensive skill to last in the league, but he had little offensive game for the Suns. ... D'Antoni had strongly supportive words for Alvin Gentry, the recently replaced Suns coach. Gentry was D'Antoni's assistant for the Suns. "Firing a good coach doesn't make any sense," D'Antoni said. "But he's fine. He'll bounce back."
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