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Unselfish Nash, Suns win seventh in a row

Steve Nash had an NBA season-high 20 assists and the Suns beat the Sacramento Kings 127-102 Tuesday night for their seventh straight victory.

Leandro Barbosa scored 26 and Nash came within two assists of a career high, set in the Suns' 140-133 loss to the Knicks on Jan. 2. That also was the last time an NBA player had 20-plus assists in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Phoenix product Mike Bibby scored 21 for the Kings, who have lost four straight games, their longest skid since they acquired Ron Artest from Indiana on Jan. 26, 2006. Artest was inactive with a sore lower back.

After opening the season 1-5, the Suns have won nine of 10 and pulled within 1-1/2 games of the Lakers in the Pacific Division.

Mavs 92, Nets 75

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - A night after having its 12-game winning streak end at Washington, Dallas led from the game's first basket and pulled away in the fourth quarter as Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 and Josh Howard added 23.

Howard and Nowitzki scored all of Dallas' points in a 13-4 fourth-quarter run that gave the Mavericks an 88-71 lead.

Vince Carter scored 20 for New Jersey, which lost for the seventh time in nine games.

In its 106-97 loss to the Wizards on Monday, Dallas played lethargically until late in the game and at one point trailed by 31. Against the Nets, the Mavs started strong and built a 17-point lead in the third quarter.

Blazers 88, Pistons 85

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Zach Randolph's short jumper put Portland ahead with 21.6 seconds to go, and the Trail Blazers stopped a five-game skid.

Randolph finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Richard Hamilton had 25 for Detroit, which lost its second straight after winning eight in a row.

After Randolph's shot, Hamilton missed twice at the other end and Jarrett Jack increased the margin to three with a pair of free throws with 2 seconds to play. Hamilton shot an airball at the buzzer.

Rockets 118, Warriors 90

HOUSTON - Tracy McGrady had 31 points and seven assists and Yao Ming added 27 points for Houston.

McGrady showed no effects from the concussion he suffered after taking an elbow from Dikembe Mutombo on Saturday. McGrady hit 13 of 25 shots and had three steals.

Around the league

NEW BALL: Commissioner David Stern acknowledged that the NBA should have sought more input from players before introducing its new game ball. "It's an improvement in many ways," Stern told the New York Times. "But if our players are unhappy with it, we have to analyze to the nth degree the cause of their unhappiness." Stern said he will address the players' criticisms with Spalding, the ball manufacturer.

GRIZZLIES SALE: NBA officials are not considering a sale of the team because the proposed buyers have not provided enough information on where the money would come from. Former NBA player Brian Davis leads an investment group that wants to buy a majority stake, but he has declined to name the investors or discuss financing.

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