Stoudemire, O'Neal dominate as Suns win fifth straightMar 19, 2008 - 6:30 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- The combination of Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal was too much for one man to handle.
Stoudemire scored 25 points and O'Neal added 16 and 15 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns posted a 111-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
O'Neal and Stoudemire were too much for Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who tried to carry his squad by scoring 31 points.
However, he did not receive much support, as reigning Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy was shadowed by Raja Bell all game and scored just six points on 3-of-14 shooting from the floor.
"My game was decent, but I'd rather win than have 30 points," said Aldridge, who has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. "I was trying to be a low-post presence."
"He makes Brandon work," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said of Bell. "With Shaq in the middle defensively, it allows Bell to overplay. It's almost as if they have Brandon caught up in a box-and-one defense. You've got to give them credit on how they played Brandon."
Steve Nash had 22 points and eight assists for the Suns (45-22), who have won five straight and remained one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers (46-21) for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
"I think right now it's about long winning streaks," said Stoudemire, who shot 8-of-17 from the floor. "With everything so tight, it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out towards the end. You got all the top teams in the West Conference with the Lakers, Spurs, Dallas. It's going to be interesting.
"We ain't doing no backing down. That's not what we do, not in the 'Valley of the Sun.'"
It was a tightly played contest for two quarters, but Portland could not keep pace the rest of the way.
Phoenix led, 77-71, before breaking the game open with a decisive 19-9 run which bridged the third and fourth quarters. The run was capped when O'Neal grabbed a defensive rebound and fired an outlet pass to Boris Diaw, who dunked for a 98-80 lead with 8:32 remaining.
O'Neal's deft one-handed pass excited the Suns' bench and is a sign the big man is finally starting to mesh with Phoenix's run-and-gun offense.
"It's beautiful," Stoudemire said. "When they can't stop him, they can't stop him."
The Suns have won five straight and are now 8-6 since acquiring the four-time champion from the Miami Heat on February 6.
"I haven't seen him move like that for a long time," Blazers center Joel Przybilla said. "His aggressiveness, he hasn't showed that in a long time. I know he's getting ready for the playoffs."
It was Przybilla who got tangled up with O'Neal on more than one occasion in the paint, twice ending in heated verbal exchanges.
"I'm used to it because it's been the same way for 16 years," O'Neal said of the physical contact. "I'm more equipped for that than they are. So, you know, they will feel it more than I feel it."
Travis Outlaw had 13 points and Jarrett Jack added 12 for Portland, which has lost eight straight and 12 of 13 to Phoenix.
"Phoenix is a really good team," McMillan said. "I like our attitude and the way we scrapped but, frankly, we'll have a tough time against teams like that."
PORTLAND 98 FINAL
Mar 19 12:56 AM
PORTLAND 76 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 19 12:22 AM
PORTLAND 49 HALFTIME
Mar 18 11:40 PM
PORTLAND 27 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 18 11:08 PM
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