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Barbosa, Stoudemire lead Suns over 76ers

Nov 18, 2006 - 6:16 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- With Steve Nash sidelined, Leandro Barbosa and Amare Stoudemire were the most valuable players for the Phoenix Suns.

Barbosa and Stoudemire recorded double-doubles as the Suns continued their success against the Philadelphia 76ers with a 106-94 victory.

Raja Bell added 15 points for Phoenix, which shot 47 percent (41-of-88) from the field to pick up its eighth victory in its last nine games against the Sixers.

However, despite their double-digit victory, the Suns have yet to put together a complete performance.

"Overall, our ball movement was pretty good, our defense was good in spots but we are getting there," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We still have some dead areas where we have a lack of concentration. Overall a good effort and we keep getting better."

Nash experienced back spasms during Thursday's practice and could not get loose prior to Friday's game. The two-time reigning MVP, Nash has been credited with making his teammates better, but they did it on their own against the 76ers.

"With Steve out, I just wanted to be aggressive and make everybody feel comfortable like Steve does," Barbosa said. "I learned a lot of things from him and I always watch him. I think I am doing a good job and this has been awesome for me."

"Steve is moving pretty good," D'Antoni said. "He has a chance to play (Saturday at Utah) but it is day-to-day. He won't play unless he is completely well. We don't want this thing to linger on."

Sharing time with Marcus Banks at point guard, Barbosa had 26 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Stoudemire collected 23 points, highlighted by numerous athletic finishes around the basket, and 10 rebounds.

Coming off microfracture surgery in 2005, Stoudemire still is rounding into shape, recording his second straight 20-point game.

"Amare is definitely back and when we put it all together, we have some good players out there, it is just a matter of honing them all together," D'Antoni said. "It is night and day for Amare. The last three or four games he has played well."

Trailing by 15 points with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half, Philadelphia went on a 16-0 run to take a 48-47 lead with 3:07 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Shawn Marion's jumper gave the Suns the lead for good.

"I think we did a great job of maintaining the lead in the second half," Stoudemire said. "Coach D'Antoni made a great point in the second half that we had to build on our leads. In the second half, we came out with a lot of energy and built the lead up and maintained it."

Allen Iverson scored 23 points for the Sixers, who shot 45 percent (37-of-83) and were outrebounded, 46-41.

A four-time scoring champion, Iverson played in extreme pain with an abscessed wisdom tooth, limiting his effectiveness.

"It was tough having to play with the pain and then to not win that is the rough part," Iverson said. "We didn't have it from the beginning to the end. Then when we did do things right, we didn't finish the quarter out. We did everything we had to fight our way back in the game, I guess we used up so much energy we didn't have enough to finish the quarter out."

Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said it was an all-around poor performance by his squad.

"(Friday) was not one of our nights. We didn't defend them, we didn't score. We had too much of our offense on one side of the floor," Cheeks said. "We took quick shots. If you take quick shots against this team they run out. In the start of the first quarter, they got eight layups.

"Our defense was bad. Our defense was not good but our offense was worse. The first quarter set the tone the way they were able to run. The game to me was we didn't run any offense and that resulted in them getting a lot of layups."

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