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Stoudemire, Suns eliminate Lakers in Game Five

May 3, 2007 - 7:17 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns needed to get their rest. The San Antonio Spurs are waiting.

Stoudemire collected 27 points and 16 rebounds and Shawn Marion added 26 and 10 as the Suns eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers with a 119-110 victory in Game Five of their first-round playoff series.

Leandro Barbosa scored 18 points of the bench for Phoenix, which erased a 3-1 deficit against Los Angeles in a first-round matchup last season. But the Suns did not let the same thing happen to them this campaign.

"It was a fairly comfortable situation, it never got real desperate," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "We obviously didn't blow them out, but I thought we did a good job. We weren't real sharp but it was a tough situation. They had nothing to lose at that point."

In Game Four, Nash handed out 23 assists and Stoudemire dominated inside with 27 points and 21 rebounds as the Suns took a 3-1 lead with a convincing 113-100 victory on Sunday.

Despite the cushion in the series, a win was imperative for second-seeded Phoenix, which did not want to make a return trip to Los Angeles for Game Six with its second-round opponent comfortably resting at home.

The Suns now will face the third-seeded Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. San Antonio closed out the Denver Nuggets in five games with a victory on Wednesday.

"San Antonio finished their series tonight," Nash said. "So, it was much better for us to finish tonight as well and not have to play again possibly two more times before we faced them. It was a positive to finish tonight for many reasons.

"It will be a great challenge, they are a championship team. They have done it before. We are trying to get to a place they have been. We have a lot of respect for them. We had three good games with them this year. We will be prepared and it will be a lot of fun."

Two years ago, the Suns and Spurs played a highly entertaining conference final, with the Spurs winning in five games. San Antonio matched Phoenix's offensive onslaught and withstood the emergence of Stoudemire, who averaged nearly 38 points per game in the series going head-to-head with Tim Duncan.

"I am definitely looking forward to it," Stoudemire said. "It has been two years for me since I have played against them in the postseason. Duncan is a I-don't-know-how-many-time All-Star.

"He is a future Hall of Famer, but I will prepare for him the same way. ... I will come out to play night in and night out. As a team, we are little more focused now."

Stoudemire scored 20 points in the first three quarters, shooting 6-of-16 from the field and 15-of-21 from the free-throw line for the game. Marion was 11-of-21 from the floor for Phoenix, which shot 47 percent (40-of-86) from the field and 31-of-39 from the line.

"Tonight we had to hang in there," Stoudemire said. "Down the stretch we had to dominate and crash the boards, and then we got some easy baskets. We had to control those guys and stop them from getting easy baskets."

Relying on their trademark run-and-gun style, the Suns capped a 15-4 run with two straight perfectly executed lobs from Nash to Marion. The burst prompted the Lakers to call a timeout on the brink of elimination, trailing, 109-93, with three minutes left in the final period.

"I was moving without the ball," Marion said. "We made sure we got something each time down, whether it was a foul or a basket, and I was able to move to the basket and Steve saw me."

But Phoenix has had a penchant for relaxing and Los Angeles fought back.

With Bryant leading the way, the Lakers responded with a defiant 13-2 spurt, capped by two consecutive shots from the arc from the superstar guard to make it 113-106 with 2:58 left.

"Kobe would not go down easy," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There was a period in there where we just kept scoring, but we couldn't stop them. That's to their credit. They did a great job and fought hard all the way through."

However, it was too little, too late for Los Angeles, which scored just four points the rest of the way.

"It is very frustrating for me," Bryant said. "It is beyond frustrating. We are going on three years of still being on ground zero. We just have we do something. We have to see what direction this organization wants to go. We need to do something and do it now."

Bryant scored 34 points on 13-of-33 shooting and Lamar Odom added 33 and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who have not gotten past the opening round since 2004, when they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

"I told them that it was a disappointing finish to our year," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "There wasn't one thing we could blame it on. We can look at the injuries and constitute it to the losses we've had and the injuries to our front line.

"We allowed it to affect us and we weren't resilient enough to recover after those injuries."

    LA LAKERS 110

    May 3 1:23 AM
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