PHOENIX — Jason Richardson scored 24 points, Steve Nash had 20 points and 13 assists in his return to the lineup and the Phoenix Suns beat the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers 106-95 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight victory.
The Suns (36-23) have won 10 of 12 and are 13 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2007-08 season. They are 5-1 since the All-Star break.
They also are 18-2 when Richardson scores at least 20 points, which he has done three consecutive games.
Amare Stoudemire added 22 points for the Suns, Channing Frye scored 14 and Robin Lopez had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Andre Iguodala led the 76ers with 20 points, Lou Williams had 19, Thaddeus Young 16 and Marreese Speights 12.
Nash, nursing an abdominal strain and an aching back, did not play on Tuesday night at Oklahoma City, staying home to rest his ailments.
He sure looked rejuvenated Wednesday, hitting his first eight field goal attempts and running the Suns' offense with the utmost confidence.
Nash was sensational in the first half. He hit all five of his shots in the first period, scored 14 points, and had five assists and two rebounds as the Suns built a 33-25 lead. He connected on his only shot in the second quarter, an over-the-head layup, and added three assists.
He was out for the first seven minutes of the second and it was obvious that the Suns' offense faltered. During that stretch, Phoenix had only three field goals and its lead — at one time 11 points — shrunk to three.
Once he returned, the offense began clicking again, and by halftime, the Suns had regained their 11-point advantage behind 16 points and eight assists from Nash. Feeding off their All-Star, the Suns scored 19 points in the final 4:40 of the second period to lead 58-47.
Surprisingly, Nash, the league leader in free throw percentage, missed his first shot when he failed to convert on a technical foul in the third period. He then missed a field goal attempt for the first time later in the quarter.
Richardson, working off the momentum created from Tuesday night, when he made the game-winning shot in a 104-102 victory that ended Oklahoma City's nine-game winning streak, had 13 points at the half.
With Stoudemire accounting for 12 points, the Suns pushed their lead to 85-63 in the third quarter. After that, Philadelphia never came closer than 11 points.
The 76ers were without All-Star Allen Iverson, out for the seventh straight game because of personal reasons; Willie Green (left shoulder); Francisco Elson (hernia surgery) and Jason Smith (right ankle sprain).
The Suns have overcome double-digit leads in 10 winning games this season. … Phoenix overcame a 16-point deficit in beating the 76ers 119-115 on Nov. 9.
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