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Marion, Suns


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PHOENIX, Feb. 25 (Ticker) -- Shawn Marion and the Phoenix Suns would not let the Charlotte Bobcats beat them at their own game.


Marion scored 31 points and grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds and Steve Nash added 29 points as the Suns improved to 4-0 all-time against the Charlotte Bobcats with a 136-121 victory.


Marion became the first Phoenix player to reach the 30-point, 20-rebound plateau since Charles Barkley collected 34 and 26 against Houston on March 24, 1995.


"I don't know how Marion put up those numbers and didn't play as well as he did in the last game," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He is on a roll."


In a contest where defense was clearly an afterthought, the Bobcats could not keep up with the Suns, who are known for engaging in shootouts.


After surpassing its all-time high for points in a half - 68 against Boston on March 14, 2005 - with 74, Charlotte simply cooled off after managing a six-point lead at the half.


"That's like being at the South Pole for us," said Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff of his team's proficient start before the intermission.


The Suns took control in the closing minutes of the third period in which they tallied 40 points. Phoenix ended the frame on a 18-4 run to take a 108-102 advantage into the fourth quarter.


The hosts held on as they outscored the visitors, 28-19, in the final 12 minutes en route to winning their sixth straight contest.


"We just came out with a little more energy in the second half," Marion said. "We were more aggressive."


Marion made 11-of-19 shots and blocked two shots and Nash, the reigning MVP, handed out eight assists. Raja Bell had 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting for Phoenix, which shot 50 percent (48-of-96) overall.


Raymond Felton was the fire behind the Bobcats' charge. The 6-1 rookie netted a season-high 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Jumaine Jones added 22 points and Brevin Knight dished out 14 assists for Charlotte.


D'Antoni started Boris Diaw in place of injured center Kurt Thomas and Diaw responded with 20 points and 11 boards. The 6-9 Thomas is expected to miss up to eight weeks with a stress fracture in his right foot.


"It would be nice to score 130 points every night," Nash said. "We have to find a way to make up for his (Thomas) absence with other activity."


"He (Thomas) is our best post-up player and now we will have to be more active in the paint," Marion said. "I think we can hold it down, but we will miss him though."



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