- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) - Leandro Barbosa scored 11 of his 22 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes Saturday night and the Phoenix Suns rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-95 and snap a six-game losing streak, their longest in four seasons.

Steve Nash added 18 points and eight assists for Phoenix but saw his career-best streak of seven 20-point games come to an end. Grant Hill added 16 points.

Kevin Durant, back after missing seven games with a sprained right ankle, scored 22 and Russell Westbrook 20 for the Thunder, who led by as many as 13 in the first half.

Phoenix pulled within five games of Dallas for the final playoff spot in the West with 16 to play.

Barbosa, who scored a career-high 41 in the Suns’ 140-118 victory over the Thunder on Feb. 20, put the game away with three late 3-pointers. The last one put Phoenix up 101-91 with 2:14 to play.

The Suns’ Jared Dudley had seven points and seven rebounds in the fourth quarter.

Dudley’s 3-pointer ignited a 10-2 run that put Phoenix ahead for good, 85-80, lead on Goran Dragic’s 3 from the top of the key with 8:25 to play.

Jeff Green’s two free throws cut the Suns’ lead to 88-87 with 6:34 left, then Barbosa took over. The Brazilian sank a 16-footer, then followed with a pair of 3-pointer in an 8-0 Suns’ run that put Phoenix ahead 96-87 with 4:11 left.

The Thunder were 5-2 in his absence and led through the first half and much of the second in this one.

A soaring dunk by Green for a three-point play ignited a 9-1 spurt that gave Oklahoma City its biggest lead of the half, 48-35, on Nenad Krstic’ 14-footer from the baseline as the shot clock expired with 3:02 to play.

Phoenix outscored the Thunder 11-4 the rest of the half, Nash bouncing in a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 52-46 at the break.

The Suns finally caught the Thunder with a 14-4 run in the third quarter. Matt Barnes, who had missed his previous six shots, made two in a row, the last one a 19-footer, to tie it at 64-64 with 4:50 left in the period.

Hill’s 14-footer gave Phoenix its first lead since the opening minutes, 70-68, with 56.3 seconds left in the third quarter, and Barbosa’s two free throws with 2.8 seconds to play made it 72-69. But Kyle Weaver threw in a 40-footer at the buzzer to tie it at 72-72 entering the fourth quarter.

Notes:@ Shaquille O’Neal was limited one point and one rebound in nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. … Phoenix scored 18 points in the first quarter, 20 fewer than in the teams’ previous meeting. … The Suns swept the series 4-0 for the second straight season. … The Thunder’s Nick Collison returned after missing two games with a sore groin, scoring four points before fouling out in 22 1/2 minutes.

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