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Wizards vs Suns
Phoenix's James Jones (left) and Amare Stoudemire (right) collapse on Washington's Etan Thomas in the second quarter last night.
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Date published: 1/24/2007
WASHINGTON--In recent weeks at the Verizon Center, the "MVP" chants directed at Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas have increased in volume and in frequency.
And those assertions had plenty of substance behind them, as Arenas had, indeed, been one of the most dominant players in the NBA.
But last night, the actual MVP strutted onto the court. And by the time Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash was finished with Washington, the sellout crowd quietly shuffled toward the exits knowing it had seen a new standard.
Nash, who has won the last two MVP awards, finished with 27 points on 11 of 13 shooting and dished out 14 assists, leading the Suns to a 127-105 thumping of the Wizards.
Out of superstition, Nash had let his facial hair grow since the Suns' winning 14-game winning streak began. But he was clean-shaven for last-night's game.
"He didn't want to be labeled as breaking a superstition," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said, "so we told him he has to keep this up for the whole road trip. He does pretty much what he wants to."
The Suns (33-8) are one win away from tying their franchise's record winning streak, which was actually set earlier this season. That run ended with a 144-139 overtime loss to the Wizards on Dec. 22, when Arenas scored 54 points.
Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said he was certain the Suns used that loss as motivation last night.
"We knew they heard Gilbert yelling 'Hibachi' and scoring 50 and Caron [Butler] yelling after the game," Jamison said. "We knew that It's just a disgrace to come in and play like this on our home floor."
The loss snapped the Wizards' 10-game home winning streak, and showed they have plenty to learn if they wish to become an elite, championship-caliber team.
Arenas said the Wizards pride themselves on playing a kind of fast-paced, West Coast-style of basketball that the Suns seem to have perfected. But for much of last night's game, the Wizards seemed stunned as Phoenix scored constantly and without much resistance.
Washington, in turn, was unable to score as easily as it has become accustomed to.