for this game

Marion leads Suns past Clippers in home opener

Nov 2, 2006 - 6:51 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Shawn Marion and the Phoenix Suns found it more beneficial to get a nice cushion a little later in the game.

Marion scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash added 20 and 11 assists as the Suns posted a 112-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in their home opener.

Amare Stoudemire netted 13 of his 15 points in the first half and reigning Most Improved Player Boris Diaw added 15 for Phoenix, which shot 53 percent (41-of-77) from the field.

On Tuesday, the Suns jumped out to a 41-26 lead against the Los Angeles Lakers after the opening period, which went for naught as they were outscored by 23 points in the next two frames in a 114-106 defeat.

"Last night we got off to a great start and it was kind of too easy," Nash said. "It looked good and we feel good, we get up by 19 and take the crowd out of it and we feel that is the game. You can't ever take your foot off the pedal in this league.

"We learned a little bit of a lesson last night. We became passive and laid down after we got the big lead. Tonight we made sure our effort was going to be great and we were going to be tougher."

In this one, Phoenix owned just a 77-74 edge after three quarters before going on a 12-6 burst that was capped by a jumper by Kurt Thomas for an 89-80 advantage with 8:04 left. Marion tallied eight of his points down the stretch to help keep the Clippers at bay.

"We came out with great energy tonight," Marion said. "We got a run in the second half and they made a run at us, but we kept our composure. Some nights our shots won't be falling, but with this defense, we will maximize our ability on the floor."

Stoudemire's minutes doubled compared to Tuesday's outing - and so did his points.

"I felt good out there, I felt like I was back to my old self," said Stoudemire, who is coming off knee surgery. "I am not concerned how I'll feel tomorrow. I will just get some ice and rest."

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni explained what he observed about Stoudemire's performance.

"You can see his reservoir of energy is a little limited but his first half was really good, and if we can keep stretching that and get him going, we will be OK," D'Antoni said. "If we can get him back, then we are fast and we have a dominate player."

Elton Brand scored 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell added 17 points apiece for the Clippers, who failed to avenge their Game Seven loss in the Western Conference semifinals last season.

"The difference was the defensive rotation we kind of played our tempo the first half and the second half (the Suns) played their tempo," Brand said. "They are the best at it. That's why teams are trying to mimic their style. We came close but we didn't hit the shots we needed to. It is our first game and we need to improve on it."

In his return to Phoenix, former Sun Tim Thomas contributed nine points and eight boards. He started in place of Corey Maggette, who was limited due to food poisoning.

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