NBA Game Summary - Phoenix at New Jersey
(Saturday, March 29th)
Final Score: Phoenix 110, New Jersey 104
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Amare Stoudemire dominated the paint with 33 points and 15 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns edged the New Jersey Nets, 110-104, at the Izod Center to move into a tie atop the Pacific Division.
Leandro Barbosa scored 21 points and Shaquille O'Neal added 17 points and seven boards as the Suns won for the ninth time in 11 games to pull into a tie for the division lead with the idle Lakers. Boris Diaw had 12 points and seven boards, while Steve Nash added a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists.
"It was a good night," said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni. "We got our road trip out of the way, so we'll take it, head back to Phoenix and see what we can do from here."
Vince Carter had 32 points, seven boards and six assists for the Nets, who dropped their second straight contest and fell two games behind Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Richard Jefferson scored 20 for New Jersey, Devin Harris added 13 and Nenad Krstic 12.
Phoenix opened the second half on a 9-0 run to open a 61-51 lead on Raja Bell's jumper just over two minutes in. The gap widened to as many as 13 during the stanza, and Diaw's three-point play with 17 seconds left sent the Suns to the final frame leading 82-71.
"We wanted to come out in the second half and set the tone early, and we were able to keep it going," Stoudemire said. "We are playing well, we are all gelling and showing great improvement, that's what's key for us to keep growing as team."
The Nets trimmed into the deficit early in the fourth, with Carter's jumper from just inside the foul line cutting the Phoenix lead to 88-82 with seven minutes to go.
After a Nash three pushed the cushion back to nine, Sean Williams hit a jumper and Harris connected from beyond the arc to bring New Jersey within 91-87 with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
Carter's three-point play brought the Nets within 93-90, but O'Neal and Barbosa poured in consecutive baskets for a seven-point spread with 4:26 on the clock.
The teams continued to trade baskets, until Jefferson strung together consecutive layups to pull the Nets within 103-98 inside of one minute to play. O'Neal responded with two free throws, but Carter nailed a long jumper to bring the Nets back within five in the final 40 seconds.
Nash made 1-of-2 at the line, but the Nets misfired on four straight shots and Barbosa drained a pair at the line to stretch the difference to 108-100 with 13.4 seconds left, putting the game out of reach.
"I thought they played a nice game, but Shaq was overpowering, Amare was really overpowering, especially down the stretch," D'Antoni said.
The Nets took control with a 13-5 run in the first quarter and led 31-21 after 12 minutes. Phoenix charged back in the second quarter, pulling within 49-48 on Barbosa's three-point play with 1:03 left.
Marcus Williams hit a layup to push the lead back to three, but Stoudemire answered back with a turnaround shot as the buzzer sounded.
Marcus Williams was called for a foul on the shot, then was issued a technical foul for arguing the call. Nash made the technical free throw, then Stoudemire completed his delayed three-point play to give the Suns a 52-51 lead at halftime. Phoenix would not trail the rest of the way.
"We started off in the first half a little sluggish," O'Neal said. "But, this is a team that was trying to fight to get into the playoff and we came back stronger in the second half."
Stoudemire finished 12-of-15 from the floor as the Suns shot 49.4 percent for the game...The Nets shot 44 percent from the field...Bell had 11 points and six rebounds for Phoenix...Josh Boone had seven points and 13 boards for the Nets...The teams were called for seven combined technical fouls.
03/30 00:03:15 ET