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Hot-shooting Suns scorch Rockets

Nov 18, 2007 - 6:00 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa paced a balanced attack for the Phoenix Suns in a 115-105 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Stoudemire and Barbosa each scored 21 points and all five Phoenix starters scored at least 18.

Phoenix, which has won all eight times this season when scoring at least 100 points, got off to a fast start but Houston center Yao Ming did not. That was not a good combination for the Rockets, who were again without superstar Tracy McGrady.

"We played great team defense and frustrated Yao offensively," Stoudemire said. "We have a chance to be a great defensive team, and we're working very hard on it. This is a sign of what we can do."

McGrady sprained his right elbow in Wednesday's 93-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He missed Friday's 90-84 loss at San Antonio and was out again Saturday.

Steve Nash scored 19 points and handed out 15 assists. Grant Hill and Shawn Marion each added 18 points for Phoenix.

"It was a good game other than our turnovers," Nash said. "We don't have quite the same flow (as last season), but we are playing well. We did a good job and held the lead with whoever we had out there."

The Suns entered the game averaging 106.1 points and they took control right out of the gate, racing to a 37-28 lead after the first quarter. Phoenix kept it going in the second and opened up a 69-57 edge at the half.

Barbosa had 15 points at the break and Hill added 14, including 10 in the first quarter, and Nash added 12 with six assists. Phoenix used some hot shooting to open things up in the first half as it shot 73 percent (27-of-37) from the field, including 6-of-12 from the arc.

"We shot the ball well," Hill said. "We were due for a game like this. It is very hard to defend this offense. That's the first win I have ever had in Houston, check the stats. That's for real."

While the Suns were sizzling, Yao was struggling. He had just one point and missed all six of his shots in the first half. He finished with 12 points but was just 4-of-17 from the field.

"In the first half, they were shooting 70 or 80 percent," Yao said. "They would make a coast-to-coast pass without even running. They don't play 100 percent, they play 140 percent on offense."

Rockets coach Rick Adelman didn't use a hectic schedule to account for his team's woes.

"It was our fourth game in five nights, and I understand that guys were tired," Adelman said. "I don't care about the schedule or anything. It's been tough, but that's life in the NBA. You have to figure out a way to battle through that.

"Scola had two great games in a row, and Mike James got going tonight, but we've got to be realistic, too. We just didn't do enough."

Scola had 20 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for the Rockets, who have lost four straight.

"We played hard against San Antonio and Phoenix, and those are very good teams that are trying to win a championship," Scola said. "We're not going to make any excuses. We need to get back to work and keep playing."

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni couldn't find much fault in his team's performance.

"I didn't realize we shot 73 percent. I knew we took good shots and made a lot of them," he said. "We we were sloppy (25 turnovers), but other than that, I don't have any complaints.

"I can live with anything when we we win. Everybody was clicking, and when that happens, that's when we're at our best."

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