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Stoudemire, Suns cruise past Kings

Mar 16, 2008 - 5:42 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- It looks like the Phoenix Suns have figured out how to play with or without Shaquille O'Neal.

Amare Stoudemire collected 30 points and 10 rebounds and newly acquired guard Gordan Giricek added a season-high 23 points off the bench as the Suns cruised past the Sacramento Kings, 127-99, on Saturday night.

O'Neal had 17 points and eight boards for Phoenix, which swept the season series with Sacramento for the first time since 1999-00 season.

The Suns have won four straight and improved to 7-6 since plugging O'Neal into the lineup after acquiring him on February 6.

In the past few games, Phoenix showed that it can play a slow-paced game when it defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 94-87, last Sunday.

Then, in their last game against the top scoring team in the league, the Suns proved they still can turn the offense up a notch, defeating the Golden State Warriors, 123-115, despite O'Neal playing just 17 minutes because of foul trouble.

"We had to change up totally, and we were dealing with issues with guys who hadn't played in a while," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We did get over that hump, but we still have some more stuff to go.

"You can see why we did everything and where we can go. It is like last week, we are not as good as we think we are, not as bad as we were. But we have the potential of being really good."

On Saturday, it was the run-and-gun Suns who shot 64 percent in the first quarter to take a 37-34 lead.

"It started off from the jump ball," Stoudemire said. "We were totally focused, totally aware of what they wanted to do and new exactly what we wanted to do and came out aggressive."

In the second quarter, Phoenix continued its offensive barrage, shooting a blistering 79 percent for the quarter - and 70.5 for the half - en route to an eye-popping 42-14 advantage in the period.

"If you let a team shoot 60 percent for the game and 70 percent in the second quarter, that is what happens," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "There is not a whole lot to say but they whipped our butts."

The Kings cut the deficit to one, 41-40, two minutes into the quarter, but the Suns responded by going on a 7-0 run to make it 48-40.

Sacramento center Brad Miller's jumper cut the deficit to six at 48-42, but Phoenix put the game away with a 21-0 spurt, giving it an insurmountable lead, which it added to by taking a 79-48 advantage into intermission. Giricek had eight points in the run, including two 3-pointers.

"I am doing things I haven't done the last three years," Giricek said. "The moves are coming back to me, I am playing on instinct and I am starting to get my legs under and the most important thing I am getting confident."

Ron Artest had 26 points and nine rebounds and Kevin Martin added 16 points for the Kings, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.

"We are going to live and die with ourselves," Artest said. "Right now, they are living, and we are dying."

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