PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns were already down a point guard when they lost NBA assists leader Steve Nash late in the first half. Shawn Marion knew the
team needed leadership, and he delivered.
Marion had a season-high 33 points and 15 rebounds, leading Phoenix to a 95-86 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
"We made some big stops after Steve went down, and that is what we have to do," Marion said. "We have to maintain our energy."
Team spokeswoman Julie Fie said Nash was cleared to play in Phoenix's game at Utah on Tuesday.
Marion led a fourth-quarter comeback with seven points, six rebounds and the biggest of his three blocks, helping Phoenix win its seventh straight.
The streak is the Suns' longest since winning seven in a row twice in 2000-01.
Quentin Richardson and Amare Stoudemire hit big shots for the Suns in the final 2:14, further offsetting the loss of Nash, who sustained a concussion
with 3:46 left in the second quarter. The injury was doubly threatening because backup point guard Leandro Barbosa had a swollen ankle and wasn't
"That was a big win for us without Steve and Leandro," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You know, without the gas or the motor or whatever you want to say.
We were a little slow, but our guys gutted it out."
Richardson had 21 points and Stoudemire added 14 points and 14 rebounds. Joe Johnson, who played point guard in the second half, had 13 points and
Lee Nailon had season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds for New Orleans, which lost its first eight games but has been playing well in the three
games since. The Hornets beat Utah on Monday and pushed Golden State to triple-overtime before losing 115-109 on Tuesday.
It's been wearing on Hornets coach Bryan Scott.
"In the 10 or 11 games that we've had, eight of those games we've been in them the last three or four minutes and then we fall apart," he said. "We
don't buckle down on the defensive end and get stops, and that's what good teams do."
David West had 13 points in a reserve role, Darrell Armstrong scored 12 and Jamaal Magloire had 11 before breaking the ring finger on his right hand
in the final minute.
Neither team held a double-digit lead in the tense contest.
New Orleans got within 82-80 on West's short jumper with 5:32 remaining, and West tied it with another 36 seconds later.
Marion missed a 3-pointer at the other end, Armstrong rebounded and Nailon's 16-footer sent the Hornets to an 84-82 lead with 4:30 to go. It turned
out to be their final basket.
Marion made an acrobatic putback of Casey Jacobsen's miss from the corner, and David Wesley fouled him. Marion's three-point play lifted Phoenix to an
85-84 lead, and Marion produced a five-point lead with a follow dunk at the 2:58 mark.
Richardson's 3-pointer with 2:14 left gave the Suns a 90-84 lead, and Jake Voskuhl and Marion blocked shots by Nailon before Stoudemire's 20-footer
with 25 seconds to go allowed Phoenix to ride out the game from the line.
"They made the plays and we didn't," Nailon said. "We tried to stay around (Stoudemire), stay crowded and keep bodies on him."
Marion had 15 points in the first 9:39, making all three 3-point attempts and leading the Suns to a 30-21 lead with 1:20 left in the first quarter.
But the Hornets scored the last five points of the period and went on a 12-0 run midway through the second, capped by Armstrong's 3-pointer with 5:10
remaining, to take a 45-37 lead.