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Phoenix Suns Vs. Atlanta Hawks: Suns Deliver First Hawks Loss

Well, it had to end sometime. However, it would have been nice to go into Monday's matchup against the Orlando Magic at 7-0.  Steve Nash nailed four crucial free throws down the stretch to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 118-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night at Philips Arena.

Jason Richardson had 22 points and Nash added 19 for Phoenix (3-3), which halted Atlanta's season-opening winning streak at six.

Joe Johnson had 34 points and Al Horford finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks (6-1), whose late bid to erase a third quarter double-digit deficit fell just short.

Channing Frye gave the Suns a 114-112 lead with 24.2 seconds left before Atlanta took a time out, setting up a play for Johnson on the other end of the floor.  But Atlanta's All-Star guard's bid to tie it missed the mark and Phoenix grabbed the rebound.  The Hawks quickly fouled Nash, who predictably extended the lead to four on a pair of Nash free throws with 6.7 seconds remaining.

Horford added a quick layup with three ticks left before the Suns found Nash on the outlet pass.  After a quick foul by Mike Bibby, Nash sealed the win with a pair of free throws.  Johnson missed a wild 3-pointer as time expired.

This one was a matter of the Hawks digging themselves a hole that they could not jump out of.  Richardson gave the Suns a 79-61 lead midway through the third period before the Hawks fought back with a 27-11 run to cut the lead to 90-88 entering the fourth quarter.

Former Hawk Josh Childress had 11 points off the bench in his first game against his former team.  Sporadic boos rained down on "J-Chill," who signed a contract with a Greek team after he could not come to terms on a long-term contract extension after his first restricted free agent season with the Hawks.  Childress was traded to the Phoenix for a second-round pick and trade exemption in the offseason.

Josh Smith had 19 points and nine boards, Bibby poured in 12 and Jamal Crawford added 11 off the bench for Atlanta, which will enter Monday's showdown against Orlando (4-1) one game ahead of their division rival in the Southeast Division.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.