for this game

Barbosa burns nets as Suns scorch Magic

Nov 11, 2007 - 5:18 AM By Jim Rickenbacker PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Just about the only noise the Orlando Magic or their fans created on Saturday was the cold welcome they gave Grant Hill every time he touched the ball.

Hill scored 14 points and Leandro Barbosa added a career-high 39 to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 106-96 win over the Magic.

Hill, a 13-year veteran who spent six injury-plagued seasons in Orlando, signed a two-year, $1.83 million contract with the Suns as a free agent after the Magic and Hill agreed to end their time together in the offseason.

However, Hill was greeted with some heckling during the national anthem and a chorus of boos whenever he touched the ball in the opening period.

"Believe it or not, I got booed when I went into North Carolina (when Hill played at Duke)," Hill said. "That's what the fans are supposed to do, boo the opposing team."

Jameer Nelson, Hill's former teammate in Orlando, took exception to Hill's reception.

"That was tough," said Nelson in respect to the icy greeting Hill received. "He didn't do anything wrong to this city. He didn't deserve that (booing). He was professional about it. He didn't walk off the court with any crazy gestures. Not Grant, he's a professional. He's one of the guys I learned from on how to be a professional on and off the court."

That chilly reception soon melted due to the Suns' red-hot offense, which was sparked by an offensive explosion by Barbosa, who scored 16 of his 22 first-half points in the opening period. The 24-year-old Brazilian eclipsed his previous career-high point total of 32 that he had hit twice previously - the last time coming on March 12 vs. the Houston Rockets.

"Coach always tells me to keep shooting," said Barbosa, who started in place of an injured Raja Bell. "Coach says if you are open, shoot it. Today, I was feeling great. Maybe I'm not struggling anymore. You have to be patient when you are struggling."

"Leandro's a talent," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "On nights like tonight when he gets it going, he's tough to stop, especially when he gets on a roll."

But Barbosa was hardly alone in helping Phoenix establish a 59-43 halftime advantage, as Hill and Amare Stoudemire each scored 10 points. A big reason for that double-digit advantage was the Barbosa's 3-point shooting as he hit all eight of Phoenix's 3-pointers in the first half alone, setting another personal career high for 3-pointers in a single game.

"I don't think Leandro can sneak up on anybody," Orlando reserve guard Keyon Dooling said. "He's the reigning (NBA) Sixth Man of the Year, right? The reigning sixth man doesn't sneak up on anybody. He really had it going tonight. He's capable of doing that."

Steve Nash added 19 points, 11 assists and five rebounds for the Suns, who ended their four-game Eastern Conference road trip with a 3-1 mark.

"Orlando's been playing very well so this is a big win for us," Phoenix coach Mike D'Anotoni said. "But I'm not surprised by Barbosa. He has been struggling a little big with his shot. Tonight, he just got a couple of easy ones at first and just took off."

Dwight Howard, who posted a 22-point, 20-rebound effort against the New York Knicks on Friday night in a 112-102 win, had another monster game in a losing cause. He scored 33 points and grabbed 18 boards, but got little help from Rashard Lewis and point guard Jameer Nelson.

Nelson was hampered by early foul trouble and ended with only six points while Lewis shot just 2-of-13 from the field and finished with four points, a far cry from the team-leading 22.8 points per game he was averaging before Saturday's game.

"It was a tough night for us, but to be quite honest a lot of it had to do with them," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "They were tremendous and quite honestly the pace of their game was too much for us tonight. Barbosa was fabulous and Nash just orchestrated everything. We're not at the level of teams like Phoenix and Detroit."

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