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Stoudamire carries Suns to fifth straight win

Nov 30, 2006 - 4:44 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire made sure the Phoenix Suns kept rolling.

Stoudemire collected 22 points and 15 rebounds as the Suns extended their winning streak to five games with a 102-91 victory over the Houston Rockets, who had their four-game winning streak stopped.

An explosive 6-10 forward, Stoudemire may be starting to find his groove following microfacture surgery over a year ago.

On Wednesday, the 24-year-old logged his third straight double-double and has scored at least 20 points in three consecutive outings for the first time this season.

"We are starting to understand how great we can be," Stoudemire said. "Once we string together more wins and have more confidence in our defense we will become a better team."

The Suns led by as many as 17 points in the second half but struggled in the third quarter as they scored a season-low 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

"We showed some signs of how good we can be and signs of how bad we can be," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We just went dead in the third period offensively for whatever reason."

"It is just a lack of urgency. We came out, being up 17 and we felt like we were going to walk over them the rest of the game," Suns guard Raja Bell said. "They are a good team and good teams don't lie down. I know I am beating a dead horse and I've said it over and over again but we have to find a way to not have those let downs in the third and fourth quarters when we have a lead like that."

In the fourth quarter, Tracy McGrady drained a 3-pointer and later connected on a jumper to give Houston a 74-72 lead, its first since 2-0.

"They got off to a quick start and I don't think we were ready for that intensity, how they approach the game," McGrady said. "We made a run at them in the second half but I don't think we really had enough to overcome the deficit that we put ourselves into in the first half."

However, Leandro Barbosa found Stoudemire streaking down the left side for a two-handed jam with 6:04 remaining to help Phoenix build an 86-79 edge.

Steve Nash's 3-pointer capped a 9-0 surge and built a 12-point lead, and the Suns were never really challenged thereafter.

"I didn't feel like we had it," Nash said. "We weren't clicking and didn't have it going so in some ways I was proud the way we were sticking together because it was one of those nights."

Bell scored 20 points, Nash added 17 and eight assists and Barbosa scored 14 off the bench for Phoenix, which shot 42 percent (33-of-77).

McGrady scored 23 points and Yao Ming chipped in 18 for the Rockets, who shot 38 percent (34-of-89).

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