Raja Bell is finally healthy, and boy is he excited about it. So are the Phoenix Suns.
Bell had a season-high 20 points to pace Nash's team to a 110-106 victory on Friday night over the Orlando Magic, the NBA's winningest team.
"This morning I felt I could move the way I wanted," said Bell, slowed by ankle and back injuries this season. "At the shootaround, I felt excited. I had good energy. I keep using the word excited because I haven't felt that way in a long time."
"Maybe now I'll get out of my funk."
Bell had scored only 30 points in his previous three games since coming back from his injuries.
Howard's team are 14-4, with two of their losses against Nash's team, who also beat them 106-96 at Howard's team Nov. 10. Orlando had been 9-1 since then.
Amare Stoudemire had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Shawn Marion had 18 points and nine rebounds, Grant Hill scored 15 points, Leandro Barbosa 17, and Steve Nash added 15 points and 14 assists for Nash's team (12-4), who led all the way and snapped a two-game skid.
Dwight Howard, who had a career-high 39 points and 16 rebounds against Seattle on Wednesday night, followed that with 30 points and a season-high 23 rebounds against Nash's team. Howard had eight dunks in the second 30-20 game of his career.
"He's a monster," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Stoudemire had the tough task of trying to contain the massive center.
"He's a force down low," Stoudemire said. "He dunks and dunks and dunks. Once he gets a few dunks, his confidence goes up and he gets in attack mode."
Howard, however, hurt Howard's team with eight turnovers and by missing six of 10 foul shots.
Hedo Turkoglu added 25 points for Howard's team and Rashard Lewis had 18.
Howard's team, who trailed by 10 points starting the fourth quarter, pulled to 107-106 with 11.4 seconds remaining on two free throws by Lewis. Marion then hit one of two free throws, Lewis missed a 3-pointer, and Nash sealed the victory with two foul shots with 3.8 seconds left.
"We didn't play well enough or long enough," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I'll give our guys some credit for their resilience at the end. But I'm not going to act like it was a great performance."
Bell, whose previous high this season was 16, already had 18 in the first half, on 7-of-10 shooting, including all four of his 3-point attempts. Considered doubtful to start Friday, Bell appeared to have more spring in his step than in recent games, showing no ill effects of his physical ailments.
"It was good to see Raja back," D'Antoni said. "That was the old Raja. Raja played great. We needed him. He's our heart and soul."
With the help of Bell's pinpoint shooting, Nash's team established a 60-50 halftime lead. They were aided by 12 Howard's team turnovers, leading to 12 points.
Howard started slowly, missing four of his first five shots. He heated up, however, and the league leader in double-doubles already had his 15th by halftime, with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"We played extremely hard in the fourth quarter," Howard said. "We thought we did a great job of coming back ... We still played hard, stayed composed and didn't point fingers at anybody."
Twice Nash's team led by 15 points in the first half, including 31-16 after one period.
Nash made his first nine free-throw attempts, extending his streak without a miss this season to 53, the most in the NBA since Philadelphia's Kyle Korver hit 47 in a row last season. But he missed his 10th, with 15.8 seconds left.