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Suns Burn Hawks 96-91

ATLANTA - Dikembe Mutombo took away Phoenix's inside game, but that didn't stop the Suns.

The outside shooting of Rex Chapman, Danny Manning and Steve Nash led Phoenix to a 96-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

"Thank goodness we got the perimeter shooting," Suns coach Danny Ainge. "We couldn't get much post-up going inside."

Chapman scored 13 of his 26 points in the third quarter and Manning got nine of his 19 in the final period. Nash came off the bench to make five of eight shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts.

"It took us a quarter to get our engines running, but when we started running, good things happened," Chapman said. "We have the athletes to run, but we need to run under control, and we're doing that lately."

It was the fifth victory in six games for the Suns and the fourth loss in a row for Atlanta, which chopped a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to 87-86 on Mutombo's two free throws with 4:39 remaining.

But the 7-foot-2 Mutombo missed four free throws in the final four minutes, and the Suns got baskets by Nash, Mark Bryant and Manning to keep the lead the rest of the way.

Steve Smith led the Hawks with 26 points and Mutombo added 20.

"Rex knocked down some big shots," Manning said. ``When he gets the shots he's looking for, he's one of the best."

Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens said the Suns were setting good screens for Chapman, "and he doesn't need a lot of daylight."

Chapman made 12 of 19 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, and Manning was 9-of-14 from the field.

"This is something you're going to go through," Hawks guard Mookie Blaylock said of Atlanta's losing streak. "We really have to step up. Right now, we're a little too relaxed. We haven't played a good ball game in a couple of weeks. That's what we need right now."

The Hawks had their best start in five games, taking a 30-21 lead in the first quarter. But Nash triggered a Suns' rally by hitting a 15-footer as the period ended.

Nash opened the second with a 3-pointer to start a 9-2 run that cut Atlanta's lead to 32-31, starting a stretch in which neither team was able to build more than a 3-point lead.

Phoenix broke a 56-56 tie with a 11-2 run keyed by Chapman to take the lead for good. Chapman had six points in the run.

Nash scored 13 points, while Jason Kidd had 10 points and 13 assists for Phoenix. Tyrone Corbin scored 15 for Atlanta.

Notes: The Hawks removed Ed Gray from the suspended list before the game, but he remains on the injured list. ... The game launched the longest road trip of the season for the Suns, seven games over an 11-day stretch. ...It was the 11th time this season Chapman has topped the 20-point mark. ... Atlanta's Smith has scored 20 or more in 10 of his last 14 games. ... The Suns had only seven turnovers compared to 16 for the Hawks, and those mistakes gave Phoenix a 22-7 scoring edge. ... Christian Laettner and Mutombo each had 11 rebounds for the Hawks.


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