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Stoudemire, Barbosa lead Suns past Celtics

Feb 22, 2007 - 7:52 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire got the Phoenix Suns going. Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa finished off the Boston Celtics.

Stoudemire had 32 points and 12 rebounds and Barbosa had 14 points and four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Suns beat the Celtics, 118-108.

Steve Nash added 14 points and 13 assists in his second game back from a shoulder injury for the Suns, who have won two straight after losing three in a row.

"It is going to be a while now that we are getting our guys back and for them to get their timing is going to be a little bit," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I thought Leandro was incredible down the stretch. He hit every big shot and Amare was a beast in there."

Stoudemire scored 18 points as Phoenix took a 57-46 lead at the half. He shot 6-of-9 in the opening 24 minutes and snagged nine rebounds and handed out three assists.

"I just came out aggressive (in the first half) and took what the defense gave me," he said.

"It's like guarding a big and small at the same time," Celtics forward Al Jefferson said. "He's so quick and runs the floor so well. It was real difficult for me."

The struggling Celtics did not go away in the second half, as Paul Pierce and Jefferson combined for 24 points in the third quarter to close within 86-82.

After a layup by Delonte West got Boston within 98-95 with six minutes left, Shawn Marion scored on a dunk and hit two free throws to rebuild a seven-point edge.

Barbosa then took over, knocking down two shots from the arc and another jumper over the final five minutes as Phoenix pulled away.

"Against this team you almost have to make those especially the way they shot the ball," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "We knew they would get their threes, we wanted to dictate the threes that they had and we did a pretty good job of that. Unfortunately the ones we dictated, those guys made them. It was disheartening but I thought our guys kept fighting."

Barbosa finished with 26 points, including 6-of-7 3-pointers. Phoenix knocked down 11-of-22 shots from the arc.

"Everybody knows that Steve is back and everything goes right when he is on the court," Barbosa said. "Not only for me but for everybody else there are more open looks. The team looks better when he is on the court and we run better. ... I was feeling good and everything was going in. I felt that every shot would go in."

Nash shot 5-of-11 from the floor, missed both 3-point attempts and committed half of the Suns' 14 turnovers.

"I didn't shoot for two weeks so I am rusty and I can't shoot a lot right now because my shoulder is still sore and I am trying not to aggravate it," Nash said. "It is difficult but it something I have to work though. I am happy that physically I feel in decent shape but my shoulder is not 100 percent."

Pierce finished with 24 points and Jefferson added 23 and 17 rebounds for Boston, which has lost 20 of 21.

"There are no moral victories," Pierce said. "We wanted to come out and compete a lot harder then we did from the start to finish, then we did last night."

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