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Stoudemire plays again as Suns speed past Maccabi

Oct 11, 2006 - 6:59 PM COLOGNE, Germany (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire played back-to-back days and helped the Phoenix Suns avoid back-to-back losses.

Working through sore knees, Stoudemire scored 11 points in 24 minutes as the Suns overcame an early deficit and raced to a 119-102 preseason victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in their final contest in NBA Europe Live.

Leandro Barbosa scored 27 points and spearheaded a 39-point fourth quarter for the Suns, who were coming off Tuesday's loss to Philadelphia in which they squandered a 22-point third-quarter lead.

Stoudemire came off the bench in that game and played 19 minutes, collecting six points and six rebounds. He began this trip still rehabilitating from microfracture surgery and experienced soreness in both knees that forced him to cut short a pair of practice sessions and miss Phoenix's preseason opener.

Stoudemire made 3-of-5 shots - including a hammer dunk in the final period - and 5-of-5 free throws, adding three rebounds and a steal. It was a very encouraging sign for the Suns that he was able to play on consecutive days.

"We're not going to play great basketball until he's 100 percent," said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, who has guided his club to the Western Conference finals each of the last two years.

The Suns got off to a slow start and trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half before closing to 60-57 at halftime. They took an 80-79 lead into the fourth quarter before pulling away.

"They gave us a great scare," D'Antoni said. "Just like all European teams, they know how to play."

Leading the charge was Barbosa, who made 9-of-12 shots overall, including 5-of-8 3-pointers. He added six assists and six steals, including one that led to a breakaway layup that gave Phoenix a 104-92 lead with 4:37 remaining.

Marcus Banks made 10-of-10 free throws and scored 21 points for the Suns, who shot 51 percent (39-of-7) and sank 28-of-29 from the line.

Former D-League Rookie of the Year Will Bynum scored 20 points and former NBA player Rodney Buford added 16 for Maccabi, which shot 48 percent (39-of-81).

On Tuesday, Maccabi lost to CSKA Moscow in a rematch of last season's Euroleague title game in which the Russian squad ended the two-year championship reign of the Israeli unit.

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