Stoudemire, Suns beat down rival SpursApr 10, 2008 - 5:26 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire scored 21 points as the Phoenix Suns routed the San Antonio Spurs, 96-79, on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
Phoenix led 72-68 after the third, but outscored San Antonio, 24-11, in the fourth.
San Antonio shot 33 percent in the fourth and was outscored in the paint, 10-2, by Phoenix.
"We just buckled down. I don't know if there's any magical thing we did there," Suns guard Raja Bell said of their fourth quarter. "We played a little harder and cleaned up our glass a little better. And part of it was just them missing shots."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a simple explanation for the final 12 minutes.
"We just didn't score," Popovich said.
Shaquille O'Neal was dominant inside, scoring 16 points on 7-of-9 from the field and grabbing nine rebounds for the Suns.
"I think you see what Shaq does for us. He really turned it on," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's a great win, but it still doesn't mean a whole lot, except we are a bit closer to them in the standings.
I'm sure they'll regroup, and maybe we'll meet some place down the road. But we're pretty happy with what happened tonight."
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined to score 43 for the Spurs, but scored only two in the fourth quarter.
Steve Nash wasn't terrific offensively, scoring 12 points, but he rounded out his game with 10 assists and five rebounds.
Parker was hot early, though, pacing the Spurs with 10 first-quarter points. And with Stoudemire in early foul trouble, the Spurs went on a 14-6 run with him on the bench.
But the Suns took a one-point lead after a Stoudemire two-handed dunk with 5:00 left in second quarter. He followed that with an even more emphatic one-handed dunk to give Phoenix a 36-33 lead.
The Spurs were able to take a three-point lead with under a minute left in the second quarter after Fabricio Oberto skipped a pass to Duncan for an easy layup, and Parker hit a 19-footer on the next possession.
But Bell nailed a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.6 seconds left to knot the game at 45-45 heading into halftime.
Then O'Neal began to flex his muscles a little, opening up the third quarter by scoring the Suns' first six points. Michael Finley hit a 3-pointer with 5:57 left in third for a 60-57 lead.
It appeared like a shot that could have swung the momentum back in favor of the Spurs, but Leandro Barbosa used a high screen to hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in the third for a 72-68 lead for the Suns.
Barbosa opened up the fourth with another 3-pointer to extend their lead to seven. Then, O'Neal began to flex his muscle again, scoring six straight points in the paint for an eight-point edge.
The Suns held a 13-point lead after a pair of free throws by Nash midway through the fourth. He then hit a 14-footer with 4:33 left in the game that gave Phoenix a 16-point lead.
Stoudemire followed with a three-point play after he was fouled on a dunk over Duncan, and the Suns coasted to victory.
"We just couldn't sustain miss after miss," Duncan said. "A lot of that falls on me because I got a lot of shots in the fourth quarter. They felt like good looks, and they just didn't go down."
The Spurs' offense has been sluggish lately, scoring just 215 points in the last three games.
"It's turning into a big concern for us," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "I think defensively we've been pretty good, but now, the main concern is that we're not sharp enough offensively. We are not making shots. We're too slow, and we have to work on that.
"I think we are just in a slump. We are not playing confidently."
The Suns won the season series over the Spurs, 3-1, and have won 13 of their last 17 games.
"We're playing well right now. We still have room to improve though, and that's the scary thing about it," Stoudemire said.
SAN ANTONIO 79 FINAL
Apr 9 11:58 PM
SAN ANTONIO 68 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 9 11:25 PM
SAN ANTONIO 45 HALFTIME
Apr 9 10:40 PM
SAN ANTONIO 24 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 9 10:07 PM
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