Shaquille O’Neal had 28 points and 12 rebounds to move into ninth place on the NBA’s career scoring list while helping the Phoenix Suns overcome the loss of two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-102 on Monday.
Nash played only nine minutes before leaving with back spasms and Amare Stoudemire was hounded by foul trouble, but the Suns still had plenty of firepower to overwhelm the worst team in the NBA.
Jason Richardson scored 20 points and reserve Matt Barnes had 19 for Phoenix, which snapped a four-game road losing streak.
Rookie Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 31 and Jeff Green 22 to lead Oklahoma City.
WIZARDS 89, ROCKETS 87
At Houston, Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 30 points while Andray Blatche added 16 points and eight rebounds as Washington snapped a five-game road losing streak with a win over listless Houston.
Jamison also grabbed 12 rebounds and Nick Young added 14 points as the Wizards snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Rockets and won in Houston for the first time since 2001.
Ron Artest scored 20 points, but also had six turnovers for the Rockets, who had a seven-game home winning streak snapped by the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
PISTONS 88, MAGIC 82
At Auburn Hills, Michigan, Rodney Stuckey led a balanced attack with 19 points as Detroit beat Orlando for its fourth straight win.
The Magic had won seven straight and were playing a Detroit team that was missing Richard Hamilton (groin), but they trailed for nearly the entire game.
Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace each scored 16 points and Allen Iverson had 15 to lead five Pistons in double figures.
Rashard Lewis led the Magic with 23 points while Dwight Howard added 18 points and 18 rebounds.
HAWKS 109, NUGGETS 91
At Atlanta, Georgia, Joe Johnson scored 25 points and Atlanta beat Denver to close out an important homestand with a long-awaited milestone.
Atlanta completed an eight-game homestand, its longest of the season, with a 7-1 record, including five straight wins. Its only loss was to Boston.
The Hawks (20-10) reached 20 wins before New Year’s Day for the first time since the 1987-1988 season.
Seven teams won 20 games this season before the Hawks. Even relatively modest accomplishments are noteworthy in Atlanta, which won only 13 games in the 2004-05 season and made the playoffs last season for the first time since 1999.
In other NBA action, it was:
• Bulls 100, Nets 87
• T-wolves 108, Grizzlies 98, OT
• Jazz 112, 76ers 95
• Warriors 117, Raptors 111