for this game

Stoudemire helps Suns crush 76ers

Mar 29, 2008 - 3:47 AM By Michael Luongo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) - Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points and Raja Bell added 20 as the Phoenix Suns coasted to a 107-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw both had 17 points off the bench and Shaquille O'Neal chipped in 15 and 13 rebounds for Phoenix, which avenged a 119-114 loss to Philadelphia at home on March 1.

"We knew that they were a hot team," O'Neal said. "Thank goodness we got off to a hot start and that tonight we were pretty good."

Phoenix wasted little time in this one, jumping out to a commanding 38-19 lead after the first quarter and holding the Sixers to just 25 percent (6-of-24) shooting from the field.

"It wasn't like we were suddenly the best defensive team in the league," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "The Sixers couldn't make a shot and they flat-out started slow. When you have a hot two months like they had, things like this happen. Hopefully we contributed a little to that."

"They were pretty crisp and we weren't as crisp as we have been over the past few games," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We were not able to get our running game going and they just took us out of a lot things."

The Suns remained in control in the second, pushing their lead to 24 points on Stoudemire's tip-in with 6:06 left. Two-time league MVP Steve Nash's 21-foot jumper right before the buzzer helped Phoenix take a 61-44 edge into the locker room.

"We just have to be sharp and aware of how important every procession is," Stoudemire said. "We kept out focus and our determination for the whole game and was able to close it out in the fourth quarter."

Philadelphia made a late run to close within 10, but former Sixer Gordan Giricek nailed a 3-pointer with 1:06 to play that made it 82-69 to restore order.

The Sixers again pulled to with 10 on a basket by Calvin Booth at the 9:52 mark. But Diaw's 3-pointer sparked an 11-2 run to create a comfortable cushion.

"We knocked down a couple of threes down the stretch," D'Antoni said. "Raja hit some timely threes and was able to come up with big shots when we needed them."

"I guess they got us back for what we did to them in Phoenix," Sixers forward Rodney Carney said. "When we wound try to make a run, they would make threes. We tried our best, but we couldn't knock down the lead."

Andre Miller had 16 points and 10 assists for Philadelphia (37-36), which fell one-half game behind the Toronto Raptors (37-35) for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.

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