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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suns Secure 3rd Consecutive Pacific Title

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns are back on the winning end of a blowout and have a third consecutive Pacific Division title to show for it.

Raja Bell scored 16 of his 22 points in the decisive third quarter and the Suns regrouped from two one-sided losses to clinch the division crown with a 108-90 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night.

Leandro Barbosa, inserted into the starting lineup to try to rev up the ­stuttering Suns' offense, added 20 points. Steve Nash had 18 points -- including going 4-for-5 on 3-pointers -- and 11 assists.

Boris Diaw, replaced by Barbosa as a starter, had 11 points and nine assists. Shawn Marion added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Suns said the division ­championship was nice but not all that important in the larger picture.

"That means we've had a good ­regular season and we've positioned ­ourselves well for the playoffs," Bell said, "but the ultimate goal is winning a championship. We understand we've got some work to do."

Kevin Garnett had 30 points and 16 rebounds in the Timberwolves' 11th consecutive road loss. With two more stops on this five-game trip, Minnesota is fading out of the fight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"The panic button has been hit," Garnett said. "We've got to win these last two bar none. I don't know how to say it anymore. The urgency is there if we're trying to make the playoffs."

The Suns had followed their ­emotional win in Dallas last week with consecutive one-sided defeats -- by a combined 46 points -- at home to ­Detroit and at Denver. So it was a relief for coach Mike D'Antoni to see his team put together a strong effort. The division title was simply a byproduct.

"We have loftier goals," D'Antoni said, "so it's something good, but again it would have been better if we didn't have this little funk that we've been in. There were some positive signs out there that we'll be back. So overall, it's pretty good."

The Suns finally got their high-speed offense going in the third quarter, ­taking control with 10-0 and 14-0 runs.

Bell, 1-for-6 shooting in the first half, was 6-for-7 in the third quarter, 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. He finished 6-for-9 on 3s.

"I've been forcing it probably the last three nights, just trying to find some rhythm," Bell said. "I talked to my wife at halftime, and she said: `Just have fun, relax, play and have fun.' Sometimes you've got to hear that. Sometimes it starts to weigh on you that you haven't made a shot, and that you're ­struggling."

Minnesota is 2 1/2 games behind Golden State and the Los Angeles ­Clippers for the conference's final ­playoff berth.

"I'm motivated right now for the playoffs, and that's my goal personally," Garnett said. "If I lead, hopefully they'll follow, and half the time they will."

The Suns rolled despite an off night from Amare Stoudemire, who had four points and two rebounds in 22 ­foul-plagued minutes for Phoenix.

Down by 16 in the second quarter, Minnesota rallied to tie at 58 on Ricky Davis' 21-footer with 8:42 left in the third.

Bell scored the last eight in a 10-0 spurt that gave Phoenix the lead for good with 6:24 to go in the third. After the Timberwolves cut the lead to 68-63, the Suns scored the next 14. Diaw scored five, including a fastbreak dunk on a pass from Bell that turned into a 3-point play.

Phoenix led 84-67 entering the fourth period and built a 91-71 lead after Diaw's spinning drive to the basket.

In other games Tuesday it was: ­Denver 94, New Jersey 90; Philadelphia 75, Detroit 96; New Orleans/Oklahoma 114, Memphis 103; Golden State 100, Utah 104; Cleveland 100, Charlotte 108; Dallas 92, New York 77; Los Angeles Clippers 103, Chicago 89; Indiana 76, Houston 86 and Washington 98, ­Portland 100.