PHOENIX -- Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson said he had gone on the record the other day and said he'd like a spot on Dream Team II. Johnson was not exactly campaigning, but the Washington Bullets may do that for him after last night's performance.
Johnson set a Suns record -- and established an NBA high for this season -- with 10 steals on his way to a triple-double (17 points, 15 assists, 10 steals) as Phoenix won its fourth straight game with a 114-95 win over the Washington Bullets before a sellout crowd of 19,023 at The America West Arena.
For the Bullets, it was their sixth straight loss and the end to an 0-for-3 road trip. It was Washington's 11th straight loss to the Suns, and the sixth straight time they've lost in Phoenix.
The game also marked the 10th straight opponent to shoot over 50 percent against the Bullets. Phoenix shot 53 percent from the field, with Charles Barkley hitting 10 of 15 shots on the way to a 22-point, 12-rebound performance.
Calbert Cheaney scored 17 points to lead Washington, which shot 46 percent from the field. Mitchell Butler added 11.
It proved to be a brutal road trip for the Bullets, who faced three of the top teams in the Western Conference in Seattle, Utah and Phoenix. The Bullets go into tomorrow night's game against Atlanta at the Baltimore Arena with a 6-12 record -- one game worse than the team's record through 18 games last season.
The one-sidedness of the game was apparent at the start of the second half when Phoenix coach Paul Westphal paraded a couple of little-used Joes -- Joe Kleine and Joe Courtney -- to start. The Suns led 70-43 at the half and the two reserves both contributed to Phoenix building its biggest lead, 83-50, after a Courtney layup with 8:22 left in the third quarter.
The Bullets did manage a mini-spurt at the end of the third quarter, going on a 10-0 run -- with six points coming from Tom Gugliotta -- to trail 89-73 with 1:30 left. But Phoenix scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 95-73 lead into the final period.
The game against the defending Western Conference champions was over almost as soon as it began. With 7:29 left in the first quarter Washington was within a point, 11-10, after a jumper by Michael Adams.
But then the Suns, the highest-scoring team in the league going into last night, erupted. A dunk by A. C. Green got things started, but the key to the 19-0 run that started was Barkley, who scored eight points and got the crowd ignited as the Suns opened up a 30-20 lead.
Brent Price finally ended Washington's drought of 6:11 with a layupwith 1:15 left in the quarter. However, the damage was already done as the Suns shot 63 percent (17 of 27 shots) to take a 36-15 first-quarter lead.
There was little let-up by the Suns, who quickly upped their lead to 23 points, 40-17, after two free throws by reserve center Oliver Miller. Unlike in Seattle and Utah, where the Bullets were able to claw back into the game, Washington's deficit was too much to overcome as the Suns built a 70-43 lead at the half.
The 70 points were the most the Bullets have allowed in the first half this season. The Charlotte Hornets scored 69 against them before the intermission on Nov. 19. Barkley led the way with 22 points, hitting 10 of 13 shots from the field and grabbing 10 rebounds.
It was a dismal first half for Washington, who got just 10 points and seven rebounds and one assist -- and eight turnovers from its starters. Butler scored eight points in the first half to lead the Bullets, who shot 40.4 percent in the half and turned the ball over 16 times.