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Suns win fourth straight game, roll past Trail Blazers

Nov 27, 2006 - 4:31 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Raja Bell and the Phoenix Suns don't appear to be setting any time soon.

Bell scored a season-high 30 points and Amare Stoudemire collected 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Suns ran their winning streak to four games with a comfortable 119-101 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Leading all five starters in double figures, Bell made 10-of-19 shots, including a season-high seven 3-pointers. He connected from the arc as part of a 13-2 run in the second quarter that turned a three-point lead into a 52-38 advantage.

"Tonight's effort was just a product of use playing wire-to-wire the whole game," Bell said. "We just had a nice flow going all night. It was important for us to get one of those under our belt because if we are going to make a push here, we are going to have to string together some tougher ones as well. Tonight was great."

Bell, who mostly is known for his defense, made a 3-pointer during a 10-0 run in the third quarter that opened an 85-62 advantage. He also gave Phoenix its biggest lead, 93-68, with a shot from the arc with 41 seconds remaining in the period.

"(Bell) had it going tonight," Marion said. "He was taking some good shoots and hitting them. He's a guy that is able to do that. He's not just a defender. He can play the perimeter and tonight, some of that was showcased."

Steve Nash chipped in 23 points and 10 assists and Boris Diaw and Shawn Marion scored 17 points apiece for the Suns (7-6), who totally overmatched the Trail Blazers to move above the .500 mark for the first time this season.

But most of the Suns were talking about defense after nearly allowing fewer than 100 points for the fifth time in seven games.

"We've got enough weapons where anyone can get it going offensively or all of us can, but we've got to step it up more on the defensive end," Marion said. "That's where it starts."

"I thought we started it on the defensive end," Bell added. "We got a few steals. We were in passing lanes. We were picking up the glass. When we can do that and get out in transition, we are an unselfish team."

Phoenix shot 54 percent (46-of-85) from the floor - including 12-of-16 in the first quarter - and set a season high for points overall and points in the paint (56).

"When you allow that many points in the paint and you don't even get a body on anyone to foul or anything, it's going to be tough all night," Portland guard Jarrett Jack said. "I think we will be able to get to practice and clean it up."

Stoudemire dominated the interior against the young Blazers, making 8-of-9 shots and adding four steals. The ultra-athletic big man, who still is working his way back from knee injuries, was able to build off a strong performance against New Jersey on Friday, when he registered 25 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high seven blocks.

"I felt great the whole game," Stoudemire said. "I think the main thing is that we all stay focused. When we got a lead, we need to push it up a little more. We gotta continue to do that throughout the rest of the season."

Travis Outlaw scored 22 points and Zach Randolph 18 to pace the Trail Blazers, who shot 50 percent (40-of-79). Portland has lost seven of the last eight meetings with Phoenix and seven of its last nine games overall.

"They looked real good tonight," Randolph said. "They came out and executed. Steve Nash running the point, hitting guys in the right spot. Raja Bell hitting open looks. He had a huge night. They are tough out there and it's just not one guy that can get you.

"They came out with a lot of energy and we've got to be ready for that. We had no defensive pressure and that's not what you want to do. We have to figure it out."

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