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NBA Game Summary - Denver at Phoenix

(Monday, March 31st)

Final Score: Phoenix 132, Denver 117

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Amare Stoudemire took over in the fourth quarter, as his 41-point, 14-rebound performance helped the Phoenix Suns erase a 22-point deficit in a 132-117 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Stoudemire drained 17-of-19 from the free-throw line and came up with huge buckets down the stretch, as Phoenix came away with its third largest comeback in franchise history.

Steve Nash wasn't to be outshone by his big man, as the guard exploded for 36 points on 8-of-12 shooting from three-point land. He also dished out eight assists and committed no turnovers, as Phoenix squared things up with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Division. The Suns are also now a half-game ahead of the Houston Rockets for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Shaquille O'Neal came through with 20 points and 12 rebounds even though he battled foul trouble most of the second half. Raja Bell chipped in 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the victors.

J.R. Smith came off the bench to pace the Nuggets with 23 points. Carmelo Anthony posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but Denver fell a full game behind Dallas for the seventh seed, and a half-game behind Golden State for the eighth seed out West. The Suns and Nuggets will meet again in Denver Tuesday night.

Allen Iverson logged 21 points and seven assists, but turned the ball over six times. Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby contributed 19 and 16 points, respectively.

"They played better than we did; it was a total melt down," Iverson said. "They played better than us on both ends of the floor and they did what they had to do offensively and walked us down. They played better than us in the second half, just a total melt down. It's disappointing whatever type of loss it is."

In a true tale of two halves, Denver began the game hitting on all cylinders and led, 70-51 after two quarters of action.

Four minutes into the second half, Nash was incidentally hit in the face by Anthony Carter during an inbounds pass. There was no call on the play and the incident seemed to wake up the Suns from their slumber.

On the ensuing possession, Bell hit a three-pointer and Nash quickly followed suit with a three-ball of his own, bringing the Suns within 11 at 77-66.

After a mini-run by Denver, Stoudemire converted a three-point play, and Bell followed with a make from three-point range to spark a third quarter-ending 14-6 Suns run. Denver was suddenly in a battle, as its lead dwindled to 92-86 heading into the pivotal fourth quarter.

The teams exchanged several buckets to begin the final frame, but the Nuggets' offense completely unraveled under the Phoenix pressure.

Nash hit two early three-pointers before dishing to his big men inside. Stoudemire and O'Neal combined to score 18 points in a 25-7 game-altering run.

Nash's only bucket during the spurt was a three-pointer at the midway point that gave Phoenix its first lead of the second half at 110-108.

Stoudemire then took over, and the Nuggets seemed content to focus on the rematch Tuesday night.

"Obviously, they played great in the first half and we played great in the second half," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Unbelievable game in a lot of aspects. I am really proud of just coming out with defense and offense both together it was pretty potent in the second half. We did some really good things. And they did some great things in the first half. I thought it was a great game."

The Suns controlled the flow of the game in the early going and jumped out to an 18-16 lead. Somehow the Nuggets turned up their defensive pressure and Denver ended the first quarter on a 12-0 run to lead, 39-25.

The Nuggets continued where they left off after the short break. In a sign of Denver wanting the ball more in the first half, Anthony corralled an offensive rebound and swung the ball out to Smith for an open three-pointer at the top of the key. Smith came down on the next possession and drilled another from behind the arc to put Denver in front, 62-40 with two minutes left in the half.

Game Notes

Denver is 15-22 on the road this season...Phoenix is 27-10 at home this season...Grant Hill did not play due to a strained groin/sprained right wrist...Denver's bench outscored its counterpart, 36-14...Boris Diaw added 10 points for Phoenix...The Suns won their sixth straight home game...Denver had won three straight road games...The Suns have now won 50 games for the fourth straight season...Denver hit 52.7 percent from the floor, while the Suns drained 48.4 percent...Phoenix owned a 50-33 edge on the boards...Nash's eight threes equaled a career high.

04/01 01:54:02 ET

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