for this game

Suns rally late to KO Warriors' playoff hopes

Apr 15, 2008 - 6:36 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Golden State coach Don Nelson sat an apparently healthy Baron Davis the entire second half. Now, it will be the Warriors who will be resting during the postseason.

Amare Stoudemire scored 28 points and Steve Nash added 13 and 14 assists, helping the Suns recover from blowing a large lead to down the Warriors, 122-116, on Monday night.

With the loss, Golden State (48-33) was eliminated from the playoff chase.

"It can be like that sometimes - no regrets," Warriors guard Monta Ellis said. "It's disappointing (not making the playoffs), but we did what we had to do. We left it all out on the court and we played hard, too, but the better team won."

Perhaps dismayed by Davis' 2-of-13 first-half performance, Nelson elected to not call on his starting point guard over the final 24 minutes on what was the most important game of the season.

"I gave Baron a much-needed rest in the second half," Nelson said. "I gave him a half off. I thought the guys that played the second half played well. They got a nice lead for us and they deserved a chance to win the game. It didn't happen that way but it was my decision."

Phoenix appeared to have the game in hand at intermission, holding the Warriors to 37 percent (22-for-59) shooting from the field through 24 minutes on its way to a 71-57 halftime lead.

Boris Diaw opened the half with a jumper to expand the lead to 16 before Golden State exploded for a 36-13 run over the next 10:36 to take a 93-86 advantage just before the end of the third quarter.

Stephen Jackson, who had just two points and played just over six minutes in the first half, keyed the amazing run with 16 third-quarter points, helping the Warriors take an improbable 95-90 lead after three.

"In the third quarter, we had turnovers and turnovers are a product of not concentrating," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We lost our mind somewhere down the road. We gave them hope and they were playing to be playing.

"We were good but we lost concentration, which is one reason why we are in sixth and not first (in the Western Conference playoff race). I hope they are waiting for the playoffs. I go to the bed with that thought because that is the only way I can get to sleep."

The lead grew to 107-96 at the 7:09 mark when Ellis hit a layup.

However, Stoudemire scored the next six points as the Suns responded with 11 unanswered points to knot the contest at 107-107 just over 2 1/2 minutes later.

"We couldn't hit our shots in the first half and we didn't take care of the ball," Jackson said. "In the second half, we made shots and were up 10 (or) 12 points then Amare was too much too handle."

"I was fighting a severe cold out there so it was hard for me to get my energy up," Stoudemire said. "I still feel it now, but I was able to get it going in the fourth quarter and give us that spark to help get this win. I'm not sure as a team how we did it, but I know my thoughts were that you got to have this win so I'm going to try to dominate to the best of my ability."

The teams shared three ties over the remainder of the contest - the last at 112-112 with three minutes remaining - before Leandro Barbosa triggered a game-ending 10-4 run with a 3-pointer from the baseline and a driving layup.

Nash, who finished one rebound short of a triple-double, hit a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.

"It might take me three weeks to get another rebound," Nash said. "I was thinking about the Ricky Davis play though (intentionally missing a shot to post the one rebound he needed for a triple-double)."

While the Warriors were eliminated, the Suns (54-27) moved into a fifth-place tie with Houston (54-27), who lost to Utah - which also owns the same record but can be seeded no lower than fourth because of its Northwest Division title - earlier on Monday.

A Phoenix win against Portland on Wednesday coupled with losses by San Antonio (to Utah) and Houston (to the Los Angeles Clippers) would allow the Suns to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"There were a lot of would've, could've, should'ves but overall with a lot of different things going on this season, we put ourselves in a good position to creep in the top four if we win the last one," Nash said.

Jackson scored 23 points to pace the Warriors while Ellis added 20.

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