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Stoudemire leads Suns past Nuggets

Feb 6, 2007 - 7:00 AM DENVER (Ticker) -- Amare Stoudemire helped the Phoenix Suns overcome the loss of their leader while stealing the spotlight from Carmelo Anthony.

With Nash on the bench looking on, Stoudemire came up big in the second half to lead the Suns to a 113-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Stoudemire scored 23 of his 36 points after intermission as Nash was on the bench with an injured right shoulder. Nash had nine points and seven assists in 16 minutes and did not play in the second half.

"We don't make a lot of adjustments. We do what we do," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Our style is what it is. Amare was huge. Obviously we went to him more because Steve wasn't on the floor."

Leandro Barbosa scored 20 points and Shawn Marion added 19 for the Suns, who trailed, 60-51, at the break but took over in the third by outscoring the Nuggets, 30-19.

"When you play a great team, it's hard to have holes," Denver coach George Karl said. "I thought my team played great, played hard, and with passion. Phoenix doesn't beat themselves. We needed to play 48 minutes against them, and we probably only played 38."

Stoudemire added 13 rebounds and had a big three-point play with 2:42 to play to make it 103-95. The All-Star's performance helped the Suns overcome Anthony's first career triple-double.

"It's always good to get your first. At least I got one," Anthony said. "It really doesn't mean anything now, we lost. We gave a great effort tonight, but towards the end they ran away with it."

Anthony scored 31 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He pulled the Nuggets within 109-106 with a three-point play with 13 seconds left, but Marion and Raja Bell each made two free throws in the closing second to ice the game.

"We just came out extremely motivated in the second half. We felt like we started out slow in the first half," Stoudemire said. "We wanted to come out in the second half and prove the point that we are a better team than we were in the first half. We had a mind set of stepping up in the second half because the first half was real slow for us."

Nene scored 27 points and J.R. Smith added 18 for Denver, which played without superstar guard Allen Iverson (ankle) and center Marcus Camby (groin), who were both out with injuries.

"They're not much different. Barbosa had a great game for them. He's a good imitation of Steve Nash," Karl said. "Nash plays one half, I would have liked to have Marcus (Camby) for one half. That would have been a good trade off."

Nash said after the game that he was 50-50 for Tuesday's game at Portland. The Suns are then off until Friday when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

"I'm not very mobile right now. It's just hurting," Nash said. "When I was sitting on the sideline it was hurting. When (coach) pulled me out at the end of the half I said I wanted to keep going. He said it's not worth it right now so I decided he was right and not to risk it long-term."

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