for this game

Stoudemire, Suns run over Warriors

Mar 14, 2008 - 6:34 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHOENIX (Ticker) - The Phoenix Suns returned to their up-tempo philosophy and quickly reaped the benefits of its success.

Amare Stoudemire poured in 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 123-115 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.

Steve Nash added 21 points and dished out 13 assists for Phoenix, which has won three straight for the first time since Shaquille O'Neal joined the team and improved to 38-13 when scoring at least 100 points.

Baron Davis scored 38 points and Monta Ellis had 23 for the Warriors, who had their three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in their last eight games.

"They came out and put it on us," Davis said. "They were aggressive and started running. I thought we came out slow and that is usually not like us to come out and have a slow third quarter. We came out and didn't have that spunk."

When Phoenix acquired O'Neal on February 6 in a blockbuster trade, the Suns felt they could continue their offensive success but the concern was if they would be able to stop anyone defensively.

After trailing by five points at the half, the Suns emerged from the locker rooms and showed that they still can put up points in a hurry as well as make defensive stops.

The Suns forged a 78-76 lead at the 5:19 mark of the third quarter despite O'Neal sitting on the bench after picking up his fifth foul.

But Phoenix went on a decisive 15-3 run without its big man on the floor.

"I think you can see we can play both ways," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That is what we have to do is to be able to change gears. With guys like Boris (Diaw) and L.B. (Leandro Barbosa), they will speed us up and when we need to go big, we will go big."

Barbosa, who finished with 14 points, ignited the spurt with a driving layup before capping the run with a 3-pointer and yet another drive to the basket, giving Phoenix a 93-79 advantage en route to a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

"That is why I love the game," Stoudemire said. "If you have a bad half or quarter, there is always another quarter.

"It was a tight game, playoff atmosphere, crunch time, that is when stars are made and tonight, as a team, we were all stars out there."

The Warriors cut the deficit to 100-94 midway through the fourth, but Phoenix again stepped up the defense and sealed the win with a 10-3 run, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by Nash.

"They haven't forgotten how to play small," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "I wasn't sure what to expect. We were just trying to play our game tonight and we weren't real good at it."

The Suns' defense was nowhere to be found in the first quarter as the Warriors - the top offensive team in the NBA - took a 39-34 lead.

The Warriors, who led, 56-55, with 2:48 left in the first half, closed the quarter by scoring six of the last eight points to take a five-point advantage into the locker rooms.

Phoenix shot 55 percent in the first half but committed 12 turnovers to four for the Warriors.

"In the first half we got caught a little bit and turned the ball over," Nash said. "The difference in the game was in the second half we were much more deliberate, had less turnovers and limited them in transition.

"We played with a lot more energy and coupled with the fact that we did take care of the basketball, it was a good formula."

Saddled with three early fouls, O'Neal played just 7 1/2 minutes in the first half and hardly was needed in the final two quarters as the Warriors failed to counter Stoudemire.

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    Warriors 111, Suns 120  4th - 1:04Mar 14 1:17 AM

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    Warriors vs. SunsMar 13 6:59 AM