for this game

Marion's monster game leads Suns to rout over Nuggets

Jan 8, 2008 - 5:57 PM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- On the NBA's highest-scoring offense, Shawn Marion is held in high regard for what he does besides putting the ball in the basket. That does not mean he can't fill it up when needed.

Marion had a season-high 27 points, including a career high-tying five 3-pointers in the first half alone, 14 rebounds and six blocks for the Phoenix Suns en route to a 137-115 blowout victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Steve Nash had 13 points and 10 assists while Amare Stoudemire added 20 and 10 rebounds in just 24 minutes for the Suns, who tied a franchise record with 20 3-pointers and shot 65 percent (20-of-31) from the arc.

"When we shoot that well, it's easy," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "A lot of guys had good games and Shawn was off the charts. That is what it is going to take. I don't ever expect 137 points, but I expect a good effort. These are great guys and they play hard.

"We are a better basketball team this year than last year. We just haven't got it all together and shown it yet, but come April, we will be a better team."

Phoenix was never seriously challenged after Marion hit two of his five 3-pointers during a 19-5 run that turned a 6-6 tie into a 25-11 advantage with 6:39 remaining in the opening stanza. The Nuggets did not come any closer the rest of the way as the Suns hit nine of their first 10 shots.

"Once you limit them to one shot and then you can get out and do what you want to offensively, it make sit much easier," Marion said. "We came out with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor and capitalized on what they messed up on. We also had a lot of threes and hit them when we needed to. It is hard to beat us when we a shooting that well."

Denver did provide a bit of suspense late in the third quarter after having trailed by as many as 25 points. The Nuggets cut a 92-67 lead at the 6:45 mark to 101-90 with 25 seconds left in the frame when Marcus Camby scored five points in just 29 seconds.

However, the Suns closed the period with five points of their own in the final seven seconds, including Phoenix's second straight quarter-ending 3-pointer to push the advantage back to 16 points at 106-90.

After Brian Skinner hit his second career shot from the arc to end the first half, Leandro Barbosa nailed the Suns' 13th 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second remaining.

In the final period, Marcus Banks helped the Suns set a season high in points as he nailed all five of his shots from the arc. In just 20 minutes, the reserve guard hit 7-of-8 3-pointers and finished with 23 points.

"It was real fun, it felt great and I would love to do it again," Banks said. "I came out and felt comfortable and got the shots but (it is) whatever the team needs me to do. That's my job, to come off the bench and give the team some energy."

While Banks reveled in his long-range shooting ability, Nuggets coach George Karl was less fond of his marksmanship with the game already in hand.

"Shawn Marion's threes were probably within the concept of the game but I don't think we expected Marcus Banks to make seven out of eight," Karl said. "They got happy and they got cocky and they rubbed our faces in the game a bit. The next time we play them, it will be fun."

Allen Iverson scored 32 points and Carmelo Anthony added 20 and 14 boards for the Nuggets, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.

"I was surprised and I am pretty sure it surprised everybody the way they were shooting," Iverson said. "They were better than us tonight. They played an excellent game but we play them again. If we get the opportunity, we won't try to show them up or anything but we're looking forward to playing them again."

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