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Suns Too Hot For Hawks


The Phoenix Suns were not about to take it easy on Dikembe Mutombo.

The Suns, supposedly interested in trading for Mutombo, did their best to make him feel unwelcome Friday night, ringing him with their most physical players during an 85-73 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

"Nobody can take me out of my game," said Mutombo, who had 25 rebounds and 12 points. "I'm the only one who can control my destiny. They tried all the dirty stuff out there, but my head was too strong. I just stayed where I was and tried to finish the game."

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Game Summary

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  • Rodney Rogers had 24 points, Luc Longley 15 and Tom Gugliotta 12 as the Suns extended their winning streak to five. Phoenix has won seven of its last eight games.

    The Suns held Atlanta to 36 percent shooting, and the Hawks' 73 points marked the sixth-best defensive effort in Phoenix history.

    Until Anthony Johnson scored six points in the final 1:40, the Suns were aiming to hold Atlanta below 65 points, the franchise's record-low game against Chicago in March 1975.

    "Our `help' defense is getting much, much better," coach Scott Skiles said. "We're reacting quicker, getting there on time."

    Mutombo, who had 11 blocks and a triple-double in his last game, continued his strong play in the face of trade rumors.

    "I'm still under contract with the Hawks," he said. "I still have a job and I get paid to feed my wife and kid. I don't worry right now about what people say. My main focus is what can we do as a team and an organization to make the team better."

    He put on a show, getting 13 rebounds in the firs half and nine more in the third quarter.

    But cheers at the outset turned to boos in the second half, and Phoenix's balance offset Mutombo's individual brilliance.

    The game was decided in the third quarter, when two 3-pointers by Isaiah Rider and a technical free throw by Jim Jackson cut the Hawks' deficit to 54-45 with 4:43 to go.

    Rogers later made two layups to start a 7-0 spurt that carried the Suns to a 63-48 lead entering the final quarter.

    "The third quarter was more energy, more commitment on defense, and not letting them catch the ball where they like," Gugliotta said. "We were real lethargic in the first half."

    Atlanta never challenged down the stretch.

    "We missed a lot of open shots, and slowly but surely our defense started to wear down," coach Lenny Wilkins said. "We were forcing the ball and trying to do too much on our own. We didn't use each other well enough."

    Notes

  • The Suns have won seven in a row at home, their longest streak of the season.
  • Atlanta, which has five more games left on this road trip, fell to 0-6 against Western Conference teams on the road.
  • The Hawks are 0-7 in America West Arena, last winning in Phoenix on Nov. 15, 1991.
  • There were three technicals in the third quarter on Robinson and Penny Hardaway of Phoenix, and on Jackson, who tangled with Hardaway.
  • The Hawks committed 21 turnovers to eight for Phoenix.

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