Johnson leads Phoenix with 30 points

PHOENIX (AP) -- Joe Johnson wanted the ball against the Utah Jazz

-- and his teammates were glad to get it to him.

Johnson scored a season-high 30 points, making all five of his

3-point attempts, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Jazz 108-86 to

improve to a league-best 19-3 Wednesday night.

It's the NBA's best start since the Dallas Mavericks -- led by

current Suns point guard Steve Nash -- started 21-3 two years ago.

Amare Stoudemire contributed 19 points, Shawn Marion had 16

points and 13 rebounds, and Nash had 13 points and 11 assists as

the Suns won their sixth straight.

"Steve does a great job of finding all of us, and if a certain

person has it going, he seems to find them a little more," said

Johnson, who was 12-of-17 from the floor. "But we're a very

unselfish team, and it's been pretty good so far."

The Jazz had a 10-point lead late in the first quarter before

the NBA's highest-scoring team got into its running game and pulled


Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who

were unable to follow up on their 93-91 win over the Los Angeles

Clippers on Tuesday night, losing for the eighth time in 10 games.

"They have guys at every position who can score every night,

and different scorers every night," Boozer said. "Usually it's

Amare, but potentially they have guys that can hit 20 every


Raja Bell had 16 points and Matt Harpring added 15 for the Jazz,

while Mehmet Okur had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

But Utah was hampered at point guard, where Raul Lopez started

instead of Carlos Arroyo.

Arroyo, Utah's usual starter, was benched after exchanging words

with coach Jerry Sloan in the third quarter Tuesday and remained in

the doghouse until Lopez, a second-year player from Spain, strained

his right abductor muscle. He had eight assists in the first half

before departing.

Arroyo played 12 minutes and scored only one point.

Johnson had a chance to tie his career high with a three-point

play, but missed a free throw with 8:23 left. It hardly mattered --

the Suns already led 97-74.

Harpring and Bell each had two baskets in a 12-2 run that gave

the Jazz a 26-16 lead with 1:36 left in the first quarter.

But Phoenix answered by outscoring Utah 44-23 the rest of the


"I didn't know we were scoring that much, but it is what it is

and we do what we do," Marion said. "Everybody went out there and

played hard tonight. We got a good win over a good team."

Stoudemire had 11 points during the Suns' rally and fed Marion

for a dunk that reversed the deficit, giving Phoenix a 54-44 lead

with 2:35 left in the second quarter.

"They play as efficient as any team I've seen in a long time,"

Sloan said. "Everything they do is right on the money. They run

hard, they defend hard. They pass the ball."

With 6.8 seconds left, Nash missed a free throw, but stole an

outlet pass by Boozer and beat the buzzer with an 18-footer from

the corner for a 60-49 Phoenix lead.

"The play Steve Nash made at the end of the half gave us a

boost going into the locker room," coach Mike D'Antoni said.Game notes
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who grew up

in Arizona, was seated at courtside. ... The Suns' 41 points in the

second quarter was their most in a period this season. ... Phoenix

has won 15 of its last 16 -- the franchise's best 16-game stretch

since 1992-93, when the team reached the NBA Finals. ... Boozer had

27 points and 18 rebounds against Phoenix on Nov. 30.