Stoudemire, Suns hold off injury-riddled WizardsFeb 11, 2008 - 6:14 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- The Phoenix Suns didn't trade for Shaquille O'Neal to help against the East because they already have that covered.
All-Star Amare Stoudemire had 31 points and 13 rebounds as the Suns continued their domination against the East with Sunday's 108-107 victory over the washington Wizards.
Raja Bell scored 21 points and Steve Nash had 10 and 12 assists in helping the Suns improve to 21-2 against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
In a blockbuster trade, Phoenix acquired O'Neal from the Miami Heat in exchange for forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks. With Marion and Banks making their debut earlier on Sunday with Miami, O'Neal was forced to cheer from the bench in street clothes due to an inflamed left hip.
But the Suns could have O'Neal in uniform as early as Wednesday when they travel to Golden State.
"I don't know when (O'Neal) will play, but he will start practicing and our guys will feel that this is our team now," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "This was kind of a stop gap until we get to the real stuff. Things are going to change a bit with Shaq - it really doesn't matter what we did because it will be a different team and hopefully a better team."
Despite not having Caron Butler, Antonio Daniels and Gilbert Arenas in the lineup, Washington battled back from a double-digit deficit and took the lead, 81-80, with 53 seconds left in the third quarter on consecutive 3-pointers by Roger Mason.
But Bell drilled a shot from the arc and added two free throws to hand Phoenix the advantage for good at 85-81 heading into the final period.
"We are down a couple of dudes right now and it is the time of year when teams that aren't supposed to beat you creep up and beat you," Bell said. "We have done a good job of pulling those games out for a win. Have they been our best performances? No, but until we get healthy and in a groove with the big fella, that is what we have to do."
Grant Hill's jumper sparked a 10-4 surge as the Suns extended the lead to 95-87 with 7:24 remaining in the fourth.
However, the Wizards made things interesting on Mason's 3-pointer over Nash that pulled them within 105-102 with 21 seconds left in the game.
"We fought and did everything we could to stay in the game, but we couldn't make the plays down the stretch," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We're pleased with the way we played but there are some things we still need to improve on. I was happy after the first quarter. After that, I think we outscored them for the next three quarters."
Phoenix made critical free throws down the stretch to seal the deal, sending Washington to its seventh straight loss.
"I practice a lot on free throws and it is definitely a turnaround," said Stoudemire, who has made his 30 free throws. "I figured my jump shot was pretty solid, so why not be solid from the free-throw line. Free throws could always be a key down the stretch so it is important."
Antawn Jamison had 28 points and 10 boards and Brendan Haywood chipped in 21 and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who had won their last two trips to Phoenix.
"I thought we played well because we got guys that are banged up and we are missing two All-Stars and our backup point guard started," Haywood said. "We are banged up but we played hard but this is one of those games you chalk up to not having enough troops."
PHOENIX 108 FINAL
Feb 11 12:03 AM
PHOENIX 85 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 10 11:21 PM
- HIGH SCORERS AT HALFTIME
WAS - ANTAWN JAMISON 16, BRENDAN HAYWOOD 11,
ROGER MASON JR 7
PHO - AMARE STOUDEMIRE 18, BORIS DIAW 11,
GRANT HILL 6
Feb 10 10:39 PM
PHOENIX 27 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 10 9:59 PM
- Towns, Porzingis unanimously selected to All-Rookie 1st team May 19
- AP Source: Knicks working to hire Jeff Hornacek as coach May 18
- Wizards All-Star guard John Wall undergoes knee surgery May 5
- New coach Brooks: Focus is on Wizards players, not Durant Apr 27
- Washington announces Scott Brooks as Wizards next head coach Apr 26
- Durant: Happy ex-coach Brooks back in NBA, focused on Mavs Apr 22
- AP Sources: Scott Brooks to be Washington Wizards next coach Apr 21
- Suns remove 'interim' tag, retain Earl Watson as coach Apr 19
- Jazz disappointed to miss playoffs, but gain experience Apr 14
- After awful season, Suns may well retain Watson as coach Apr 14
- Hornets look for first playoff win in 14 seasons vs. Heat Apr 14
- Wizards president Grunfeld stays, fires coach Wittman Apr 14