117 - 102 Final
  for this game

Stoudemire powers Suns over shorthanded Kings

Dec 31, 2007 - 6:24 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) - If the Sacramento Kings were expecting sympathy from the Phoenix Suns for their growing list of injuries, they didn't get it.

Amare Stoudemire dominated inside with 31 points and 17 rebounds and the Suns sent the Kings to their fourth straight home loss, 117-102, at Arco Arena on Sunday.

Shawn Marion scored 25 points and Leandro Barbosa contributed 22 off the bench for Phoenix, which defeated Sacramento for the eighth time in nine meetings.

"Obviously they were shorthanded and we took advantage of it," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I thought they played well, though. They didn't quit. We played really well in the fourth, kind of closed the door on them when we had to."

Ron Artest missed his second straight game with a bone chip in his right elbow, leaving the Kings with just two of their regular five starters in the lineup. Artest flew to New York for a consultation Monday and is likely to require surgery that will keep him out for 2-3 weeks.

Stoudemire got rolling early, scoring 12 first-quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting. He finished with a season-high 10 offensive rebounds.

"I felt like (inside) is where we can attack teams even though we have great perimeter players," Stoudemire said. "My teammates were looking for me early and I got it going. I was definitely trying to be active, but I didn't know I had 10 offensive boards. That's pretty sweet."

"(Stoudemire) is turned on right now," said Steve Nash, who collected 15 assists. "It's great to see. He's full of energy and working really hard."

Phoenix led by 14 points after a jumper by Raja Bell midway through the third quarter. But Sacramento refused to go quietly despite being shorthanded.

John Salmons scored seven straight points for the Kings to cut the deficit to seven at 93-86 heading into the fourth.

The Kings came even closer, pulling within three points on a basket by Dahntay Jones with 6:05 remaining. However, Stoudemire slammed home a dunk and Bell made a 3-pointer from the wing to ignite a 12-0 run that put the Suns up 111-96.

"I thought we missed four or five opportunities around the basket (to start the fourth) that would probably have changed the complexion of the game right away," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "But when all is said and done, I thought we played hard. We got it down to three against a great basketball team."

After a buzzer-beating loss to the Denver Nuggets to start the homestand, Sacramento lost by an average of 16 points in the final three games and fell to 8-8 at home.

Marion hit 10-of-16 shots, including 5-of-6 from the arc, as Phoenix took advantage when Sacramento collapsed on Stoudemire.

"Sometimes it's just the flow of the game," Marion said. "We've got so many talented players on this team, you've got to be ready when it comes. I was able to catch a rhythm, and when you can catch a rhythm you are able to be a lot more effective."

Francisco Garcia replaced Artest in the lineup and scored 30 points, one away from his career high. Salmons added 23 and Mikki Moore 20 for the Kings.

Barbosa and Stoudemire combined for 39 first-half points on 15-of-22 shooting to supply Phoenix with a 64-55 advantage at the break.

"Eventually we are going to keep getting better with the guys coming back," Garcia said. "We can't just get frustrated because we are losing games. Right now it's not going our way so we just have to stay together."

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