OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Steve Nash had an expensive bottle of red wine from the Napa Valley tucked in a paper bag in his locker, a birthday present from his teammates that he was saving for another day.
They got a taste of everything else.
Nash dished out 15 assists and scored 14 points, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 104-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors on his 37th birthday Monday night.
``It hasn't been a very fun year in large part,' Nash said. ``But it's been more fun lately.'
Channing Frye had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Grant Hill scored 18 to help the Suns build a 23-point lead and hold on late. They made 13 3-pointers and shot 43 percent from the floor in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.
The Suns weren't about to blow a game on the seven-time All Star's birthday.
They sang happy birthday to Nash - and Mickael Pietrus, who turned 29 - before the game in the locker room in an acapella rendition. Nash ate some birthday pizza, then sliced through the Warriors.
``Just another night, really,' Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. ``He's been doing it forever and I've been there watching him. Nothing that he did really amazed me.'
Monta Ellis scored 21 points and David Lee had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors, who got within five in the fourth quarter but could not come all the way back.
``We played terrible. It's embarrassing for our fans that we came out and played the way we played,' Ellis said. ``We'd been playing great the last few games and to come out and put up a performance like this is very disappointing.'
It was vintage Suns on display for most of the night.
They shot themselves to victory with an array of outside jumpers that even the usually high-scoring Warriors couldn't match. Phoenix went 9 for 15 on 3-pointers in first half, with five different players sinking shots from beyond the arc.
Nash had eight first-half assists, and Frye and Pietrus each made three 3-pointers to put Phoenix up by 20 in the second. Gentry perhaps removed his starters a little too quickly in a game that appeared over.
The Warriors got within 93-88 with about 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter in a frantic rally that even had Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob leading a standing ovation courtside. They scored 11 straight points during the spurt, helped by Phoenix missing eight straight shots with most of its starters on the bench, but just couldn't sustain the momentum.
Nash and Co. shed their warmups and quickly put the game away. Frye made a 3-pointer and another jumper, Nash hit a pull-up shot and the Suns went back ahead 104-90 in about a minute to give Nash a fitting end to his birthday.
The Suns (24-25) have won four of their last five and are in the thick of the playoff race. They are 2 1/2 games behind Portland for the final Western Conference spot, and a game back of Memphis.
``We just have to keep working every day, we have to continue to improve and we also have to get a little bit tougher,' Nash said.
Phoenix did enough damage early to put any kind of comeback far out of reach.
The frenetic pace and slick ball movement by Nash and the Suns were too much for the defensively challenged Warriors to keep up. Phoenix went ahead 77-54, shot 61 percent through three quarters and built enough of a cushion to withstand the Warriors' push.
``You're not going to beat them at their game,' Warriors coach Keith Smart said. ``It's not going to happen.'
NOTES: Phoenix G Goran Dragic missed his fourth straight game after cutting his left foot stepping on a piece of broken glass at his home, requiring nine stitches. ... Nash had not played on his birthday since 2004, when he had 29 points and 11 assists against Dallas. ... Warriors backup G Acie Law missed his second game in a row with a sprained right wrist. ... The Suns and Warriors play again Thursday in Phoenix.
The Associated Press News Service
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