MILWAUKEE – Channing Frye scored 20 points and the Phoenix Suns used a blistering 19-0 run in the third quarter to flip a deficit into a big lead in a 102-88 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
The Suns are chasing Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and are just a half-game back after winning 12 of their last 16. It appeared they might not keep pace, though, after a lackadaisical first half and an eight-point deficit early in the third quarter.
But Frye converted a three-point play to spark 12 points in a span of 1:38 that the Suns stretched to 19 in a row.
Corey Maggette scored 21 points for the Bucks, who were missing four regulars, including center Andrew Bogut due to injuries or illness.
Mickael Pietrus scored 20 points, Grant Hill added 14 and Steve Nash had 13 assists for Phoenix, which lost at Boston on Wednesday and was without Vince Carter after lingering dizziness following a collision with Frye against the Celtics.
But the Suns (32-28) haven't lost two in a row since a three-game skid that ended Jan. 26 as they've climbed back into the Western Conference race by scoring at will.
Phoenix extended its streak of at least 100 points to a season-best nine straight games.
This was a familiar feeling for the slumping Bucks, who had been looking to win two in a row for the first time since January. Milwaukee, the lowest-scoring, worst-shooting team in the NBA went cold during the Suns' big run despite 16 points from Brandon Jennings and 14 from Earl Boykins.
After John Salmons made a tough layup in the paint that gave Milwaukee a 53-45 lead, the Bucks fell apart.
Frye converted a three-point play, Robin Lopez hit a jumper, Frye made a 3, Lopez hit a free throw and Pietrus added another 3 to make it 57-53 over the stretch of 1 minute, 38 seconds.
The Suns weren't done. Hill hit a jumper, Pietrus added another and Hill made a 3 that capped the run and gave Phoenix a 64-53 lead.
After Maggette's free throws snapped a scoreless stretch of nearly 5½ minutes, Nash and Hill hit 3s and Pietrus and Marcin Gortat each had three-point plays that extended it to 76-59 late in the quarter.
Phoenix finished 11 of 18 from the field and hit their first five 3-point attempts to outscore Milwaukee 31-15 in the third quarter. The Bucks never got closer than nine in the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee (23-37) fell to 4-11 in its last 15 even as coach Scott Skiles acknowledged the Bucks entered play Friday night just three games down in the loss column from the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.
The Bucks haven't been able to stay healthy this year. Against Phoenix, they were without Bogut (strained left side), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (flu), Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) and Drew Gooden (left foot).
Notes: Nash had seven turnovers in the first half and zero in the second. ... Frye scored Phoenix's first nine points of the game and finished the first quarter with 11. He surpassed his season average of 12.2 with a 3-pointer midway through the second. ... Phoenix has won nine of the last 10 against the Bucks, and 35 of the last 40 in the series.