CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Before the Charlotte Bobcats scattered for the offseason last spring, Stephen Jackson walked into his exit interview and heard coach Larry Brown issue a challenge.
``He told me I was one of the guys in the league that could either come close or flirt with a triple-double every night,' Jackson said. ``That says a lot from a Hall of Fame coach like Larry Brown to believe that you can do that.'
Jackson did his coach proud on Saturday night with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the first triple-double in franchise history in the Bobcats' 123-105 victory over a listless Phoenix Suns team playing without Steve Nash.
``It feels good to do what he asked,' Jackson said of Brown.
It was the second career triple-double for the sometimes volatile Jackson, whose first also came against the Suns when he was with Golden State in the 2008-09 season. He hit 10-of-13 shots and spearheaded an ultra-efficient night for the Bobcats, who also got 26 points from Boris Diaw and shot 58 percent from the field.
Tyrus Thomas added 22 points for Charlotte, which was met with little resistance by the Suns in transition or inside, scoring 64 points in the paint and leaving Suns coach Alvin Gentry fuming.
``We didn't guard anyone. We let a team that's averaging 93 (points) put up 123, and they were nice about it,' Gentry said. ``They should have gotten 140.'
Playing its second straight game without Nash, its star point guard slowed by a strained groin, Phoenix wilted in the second half and hit only five of 21 3-pointers.
Since hitting 22 3s in a Nov. 14 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Suns have dropped three straight by a combined 61 points while shooting 17 of 77 from long range.
Grant Hill scored 23 points, Hedo Turkoglu added 18 and Nash's fill-in, Goran Dragic, had 17 points, 10 assists and no turnovers for the Suns, who let Charlotte shoot 59 percent in the second half.
``This isn't about Steve, guys,' Gentry said. ``We had 12 guys out there and didn't play with any kind of effort.'
Gentry said he'll be cautious with Nash and may also sit him in Monday's visit to Houston. Nash received treatment during the morning shootaround and before the game, and finished with some shooting drills about 30 minutes before tipoff.
Nash then watched from the end of the bench as the Bobcats took control early in the second half with a barrage of easy transition dunks and layups.
``It was a layup drill in the third quarter,' Gentry said.
Three timeouts by Gentry in just over 5 minutes couldn't stop Charlotte's 25-8 run that snapped a 58-all tie. Thomas was scoring at will inside and Jackson's layup put Charlotte ahead 83-66 with 2:46 left in the third quarter.
The Suns got within 98-90 on Jason Richardson's three-point play with 6:58 left, but the Bobcats responded with a 9-2 run.
``Regardless of how we're shooting the ball, we have to play better defense,' said Richardson, who had 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
A night after a disappointing loss in Miami that saw Gerald Wallace foul out and then get ejected, Charlotte again got little early from its second-leading scorer, thanks to more foul trouble.
But Wallace scored 10 points in the fourth quarter while Jackson gave the 7-year-old Bobcats a milestone in their fourth win in six games.
Jackson said Brown let him stay in the game late to accomplish his feat. He got his 10th rebound with 4:52 left and then fed Wallace for an alley-oop dunk. Jackson got his 10th assist on Diaw's 3 with 1:07 to go.
``Jack, Gerald and Boris are capable of getting double-figure rebounds every game,' Brown said. ``Assists are sometimes more difficult to come by, but they all have that ability and I don't know if a lot of guys in the league have that.'
Jackson's other triple-double came Feb. 4, 2009, when he had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Phoenix.
``The only great thing about it,' Jackson said, ``is that it's a great gift for my mom on her birthday.'
Notes: It was Brown's 1,323rd professional win, leaving him 13 shy of passing Don Nelson for the most all-time in the NBA and ABA. ... Bobcats owner Michael Jordan wasn't in his courtside seat for the first time this season. ... Bobcats F Dominic McGuire made his Charlotte debut following a shin injury. He didn't score, but had three rebounds and three assists. ... The schedule allowed for Gentry to visit his hometown of Shelby, N.C., on Friday, where he loaded up on barbecue, sweet tea and other Southern fare. ... Suns C Robin Lopez (sprained knee ligaments) was getting his knee iced at shootaround as he remains sidelined.
The Associated Press News Service
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