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Marion, Stoudemire lead Suns past lowly Sonics

Apr 12, 2007 - 5:55 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Shawn Marion and the Phoenix Suns continue to soar toward the postseason.

Marion and fellow All-Star Amare Stoudemire both recorded double-doubles for the Suns en route to a 109-91 victory over the injury-plagued Seattle SuperSonics.

The win kept Phoenix (58-19) two games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs (57-21) for second place in the Western Conference standings with four contests remaining.

"I think each one we win we just widen that gap up, but at the same time the Spurs are right on our heels," Marion said. "It was a good win for us."

Marion collected 24 points and 10 rebounds and Stoudemire added 18 and 11 to help Phoenix hold a 44-28 edge in points in the paint. A leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, Leandro Barbosa netted 20 points off the bench for the Suns, whose magic number to clinch the second seed in the West is now three.

"I think we didn't do a great job in the first half but more importantly we just wanted to win," Barbosa said. "Everybody knows we still have to get better on defense. There is not a lot of time for us to get better, so we have to appreciate the time we have now."

Marion's back-to-back 3-pointers sparked an impressive 16-2 run to bridge the final two quarters as the Suns built a 93-77 at the nine-minute mark in the fourth period.

"His (Marion) energy comes from being involved offensively and the defensive end perks him up," Suns coach Mike D' Antoni said. "It perks anyone up if you feel engaged and you feel like things are flowing, then your energy definitely goes up."

Rashard Lewis scored 30 points and Mike Wilks chipped in a career-high 20 for Seattle, which was without All-Star Ray Allen, Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson all due to ankle injuries.

"We fought hard, but once they took the lead it was tough for us," Lewis said.

"We were only down five after three quarters with five guys out of the lineup, so I was tickled pink going into the fourth quarter," Seattle coach Bob Hill said.

In his fifth season, Wilks was making his first start since January 29, 2003.

"It felt good but it's different because I am just learning as I go," Wilks said. "When I came into the league with Atlanta I had the opportunity to start, but that was five years ago. So coming out, I was just trying to focus on the game plan because I knew I was going to get some good minutes."

"I thought (Wilks) did a really good job," Hill said. "I thought early on he was a little apologetic, but we called a timeout and he started making shots. When you have to play as many minutes as he had to, it's hard, but I thought he did very well."

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