for this game

Stoudemire leads Suns in rout over Clippers

Dec 28, 2007 - 7:08 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns found life easier in Los Angeles the second time around.

Stoudemire recorded a first-half double-double on the way to finishing with 30 points, a season-high 15 rebounds and four blocks as the Suns cruised past the Clippers, 108-88, avoiding a two-game sweep in Los Angeles on Thursday.

"I just came out focused, I was determined," Stoudemire said. "I felt like we're on the cusp of becoming a better team, so we had to start tonight and we did that."

Leandro Barbosa and Grant Hill contributed 16 points and Steve Nash added to his league-leading assist totals with 12 as the Suns bounced back from a Christmas day loss to the Lakers.

Stoudemire, who entered the game averaging team highs of 20.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks, got off in a hurry. The center scored his team's first 11 points on the way to finishing with 20 and 11 rebounds by the half.

"Offense is nothing new, scoring is easy for me," Stoudemire said, "but defense is where we are trying to get better as a team, and I think tonight as a unit we did a great job."

The first-place Suns, who led from start to finish, used an 18-6 run midway through the second quarter to bury the Clippers. Shawn Marion and Barbosa capped off the run with back-to-back 3-pointers for the 54-32 advantage.

Defensively, Stoudemire proved to be equally effective against counterpart Chris Kaman, who has established himself as one of the Western Conference's top big men. He struggled in this one as he snapped a streak of 12 straight double-doubles.

"The whole game was just a blur to me," Kaman said. "I don't know if it was the time we had off, or if we weren't prepared, but whatever it was we weren't ready for that team."

Kaman didn't get on the scoreboard until he made a short hook shot early in the second quarter. It was his only basket of the half as made just one of 11 shots until that juncture. For the game, Kaman shot 4-of-17 and finished with nine points and nine rebounds.

"He had a lot of good shots that he didn't make, the same shots that he's been getting and shooting 50 percent," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "That was the frustrating part about it, all the stuff that he normally finishes he didn't finish tonight."

The defensive effort by the Suns was a welcomed sign for a squad which has struggled in recent games with its interior defense on the way to losing five of its last eight games.

"It's not a perfect game, but it's the best game we've played in a couple of weeks," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We played well tonight, offensively and defensively. Amare was huge tonight but really everyone contributed, really taking advantage of a lot of opportunities."

The Clippers struggled out of the gate, making only three of their first 14 shots as they fell behind 13-2, and shot just 30 percent in the opening half.

"We missed some easy shots and compounded the pressure on ourselves with the shots that we missed," Dunleavy said. "We shot 30 percent in the first half, and you can't do that against a team that scores like they score."

The Suns added to their advantage after halftime, using an 18-1 spurt for a 77-41 lead on Nash's 3-pointer with 6:30 remaining in the third. The lead hovered in the 30s for much of the final 20 minutes.

Corey Maggette finished with 21 points and Cuttino Mobley and rookie forward Al Thornton each had 14 points for the Clippers, who were booed by their crowd as they left the floor for a timeout in the early part of the third quarter.

"Each game we just need to try and get better," Maggette said. "Even if we lose, we need to get better each game.

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