for this game

Suns overcome Sonics late in season-opening win

Nov 2, 2007 - 7:11 AM By Paul Lowenberg PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- In what may have been the Seattle SuperSonics' last home opener, not even a big game from prized rookie Kevin Durant could hold off the Phoenix Suns for 48 minutes.

Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Suns past an upset-minded Sonics team on Thursday, 106-99.

Trailing 82-79 after three quarters, Phoenix turned to Stoudemire, who scored six points during an 11-4 run to open the fourth quarter as the Suns took an 93-86 lead with 6:24 remaining in the game.

The two-time All-Star, who was named to the All-NBA team for the first time in his career last season, scored 10 points in all during the quarter in which Phoenix outscored Seattle, 27-17.

But Stoudemire said the real difference in the final period was defense.

"Every fourth quarter you have a tendency to want to strap up a little tighter and we did that," Stoudemire said. "As a team, we played good defense and we were able to create some runs."

Durant, who scored 18 points in his NBA debut in a loss at Denver on Wednesday, matched that mark by halftime in this contest as the up-tempo style of the Suns seemed to suit the rookie just fine.

After scoring 903 points in his lone season at the University of Texas, the second-best freshman total in college basketball history, Durant finished with 27 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field - including two 3-pointers - and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.

Chris Wilcox added 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Sonics, who fell to 0-2 for the second straight season.

Despite the loss, Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo was encouraged by what he saw from his young team.

"I thought the effort was excellent," Carlesimo said. "We did go back-to-back with a game last night and, to Phoenix's credit, they did step up at the end of the game. I'm really pleased with our effort, just disappointed with the result."

The Sonics may be playing in what might be their final home opener in the city as owner Clay Bennett has indicated he would move the team, possibly to his native Oklahoma City, if his group cannot reach a deal for a new arena.

Bennett had previously indicated he would file a request to move with the NBA on Thursday, but said he would wait until after Opening Night in order to not detract from the team's home opener. Bennett was expected to make a statement about the arena situation on Friday.

An enthusiastic home crowd cheered the Sonics on and broke into a lengthy chant of "Save our Sonics" on several occasions throughout the contest.

"It was fun," Durant said. "The crowd was into it and they supported us 110 percent, and they really got going at the first tip. That's what we need out of our fans, and it was fun."

Seattle seemed to feed off the enthusiasm, holding the lead from the 4:28 mark of the second period until the 10:40 mark of the final quarter, perhaps highlighted by Damien Wilkins' shot from the half-court line as time expired at the end of the first half, allowing the Sonics to take a 58-55 lead into intermission.

"We just weren't real sharp," said two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, who had 18 points and 12 assists for the Suns. "That's about what you would expect for an opening game."

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