for this game

Stoudemire, Nash lead Suns to eighth straight win

Nov 24, 2007 - 6:17 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- The Phoenix Suns' high-powered offense proved to be too much for the injury-riddled Los Angeles Clippers.

Amare Stoudemire poured in 27 points and Steve Nash added 20 to lift the Suns past the Clippers, 113-94, on Friday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

Shawn Marion scored 19 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and tallied five steals for Phoenix, which improved to 11-2 to match its best start in franchise history.

"It is all good, but we can get a lot better," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There will be nights when it won't work but 78 out of 82 times it will work."

The Suns, who averaged an NBA-leading 108.1 points per game entering the contest, were coming off a season-high 127 points, 80 of which came in the first half to mark the most in the NBA in more than a decade - Wednesday against Sacramento.

But Phoenix struggled in the first half Friday, trailing the Clippers after one quarter, 27-22, and 52-51 at the half as veteran point guard Sam Cassell led all scorers with 18 points at the intermission.

Sparked by increased defensive pressure and All-Stars Stoudemire and Nash, the Suns ignited their offense in the third quarter, opening the frame with a 12-2 run to take the lead for good. Stoudemire and Nash combined for all 12 points during the spurt.

"The second-half intensity was definitely important to us," Stoudemire said. "The first five minutes in that half is what we keyed on, and we were able to get it going. Once they drop off to me at the basket, it throws guys off guard. It was pretty much a team effort where my teammates did most of the work and I just finished."

The Clippers cut the deficit to six, but Phoenix responded with another tear, scoring eight of the next 10 points and taking command with an 86-74 lead after three quarters.

"Amare got us going offensively, and I got us going defensively," Marion said. "We were all active and were helping each other out. We started moving the ball then and pushing ourselves and we pulled away with it."

Los Angeles (6-5) was without the services of Elton Brand (Achilles tendon) and Shaun Livingston (dislocated left knee), who have been out since the start of the season.

Adding to its woes was the absence of leading scored Corey Maggette, who missed his third consecutive game with a strained right hamstring, and Brevin Knight, who sat out with a strained right groin.

Cuttino Mobley, Quinton Ross and Al Thornton are all dealing with minor injuries but played through the pain for the Clippers.

"In the first half, we pretty much controlled the pace of the game," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "In the second half, we didn't do a good job of making shots. We started off the third quarter taking some bad shots. I thought they forced us into some quick shots and we missed some easy shots."

Cassell finished with 26 points despite not starting in the second half and only playing eight minutes in the third quarter and none in the fourth.

"He (Dunleavy) knows where I am at. I ain't hard to find," Cassell said. "I don't dictate playing time out here. I just dictate what I do on the court, but when I am sitting around like you guys I can't do nothing. We have a game (Saturday) and maybe he will play me (then)."

"When they jumped the lead out on us, we play (Saturday) night back-to-back games," Dunleavy said. "I just felt that I didn't want to take anymore of his legs. If we got back to single digits, I would have put him back in."

Ruben Patterson came off thebench and contributed 18 points and 11 boards for the Clippers, who have now lost five of their last seven games after beginning the season winning their first four contests.

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