Hot-shooting Suns scorch NetsNov 5, 2008 - 4:55 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Raja Bell scored 22 points and Shaquille O'Neal added 18 to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 114-86 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday.
Bell was 7-of-9 from the field, including 6-of-6 from the arc. He was not the only one with a hot shooting touch as the Suns shot 77 percent in the first half to build a 10-point lead and nearly kept up their blistering pace over the final two quarters.
The Suns never trailed and led by as many as 31 late in the game.
"You know, I felt like I just kept getting really good looks," Bell said. "The perimeter guys, even the bigs, were doing a really good job of giving it up timely, as soon as that double came, so I was just getting wide open looks."
O'Neal was 7-of-8 from the field and even had a good light at the line, making 4-of-5 free throws. Amare Stoudemire scored 14 points and Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa each added 12 for the Suns.
"Early on Shaq controlled the paint, you know Shaq is Shaq. Then Stoudemire controlled the paint in that second half," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "I think it's just a combination of breakdowns in terms of weak side not stepping up. You can't get beat both in the paint and also the 3-point line, it's got to be a choice."
""When they look for me, I'm going to be ready," O'Neal said. "I'm just trying to be consistent, more consistent from the free throw line. I've been shooting pretty well the past few games and the guys know I'm ready to go. I'm in perfect shape."
Vince Carter scored 19 points and Yi Jianlian added 15 for the Nets.
"We made a lot of mistakes, and they were shooting the ball extremely well," Carter said. "In the first half we were contesting shots and in the second half we weren't and that allowed them to shoot a high percentage from the floor. It's a learning process so we need to learn and bounce back from it."
Phoenix ended up shooting 63 percent (43-of-68) from the field and New Jersey just couldn't keep up. The Suns extended the lead to 92-77 after three and extinguished any thoughts of a Nets comeback by outscoring them 22-9 in the fourth.
"I've never seen us allow a team to shoot 72 percent in the first half," Frank said. "They shot 63 percent for the game, 67 percent from the three, they scored 44 points in the paint. We just ran out of bullets."
The Suns shot 67 percent (12-for-18) from the arc but did keep the Nets hanging around for a while by committing 20 turnovers.
With the game all but decided, the crowd turned its focus to election updates during timeouts. The New Jersey crowd came down in the Barack Obama camp, cheering each time he won a state while John McCain's wins were met with boos.
Nash added 11 assists for a double-double and Grant Hill scored 11 points and Matt Barnes had 10 to give Phoenix seven players in double figures.
"We're not really run and gun anymore, but we still want to push (the ball) and come down and use our half court offense," Nash said. "We're building, but I think we have a chance to have great chemistry, but it's important for us to keep working at it and getting better."
NEW JERSEY 86 FINAL
Nov 4 10:01 PM
NEW JERSEY 77 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 4 9:30 PM
NEW JERSEY 55 HALFTIME
Nov 4 8:48 PM
NEW JERSEY 27 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 4 8:13 PM
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