Stoudemire, Suns Host Jazz
Posted Nov 3 2006 3:13PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The Phoenix Suns like having a healthy Amare Stoudemire to add to their already potent offense.
The Suns look for another strong game from Stoudemire when they host the Utah Jazz on Friday.
Stoudemire was considered one of the brightest young stars in the NBA following the 2005 Western Conference finals, where he averaged 37 points in a series loss to San Antonio.
That summer, however, he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee, a procedure from which it typically requires two years to recover.
Limited for most of last season, Stoudemire eventually had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee because of the rigors of rehabilitation.
Now back and playing, the 23-year-old power forward was still slowed by knee stiffness in the preseason.
He played only 12 minutes in Phoenix's 91-81 opening-night loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. He had a better game on Wednesday, scoring 15 points in 24 minutes in a 112-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
``I felt like I was back to my old self,'' Stoudemire said. ``I'm just trying to build up some good days like that.''
Even without the 6-foot-10 Stoudemire completely healthy, the Suns (1-1) have plenty of offensive options, including two-time league MVP Steve Nash, who had 20 points and 11 assists against the Clippers, and Shawn Marion, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds. But Phoenix is glad to have Stoudemire off the bench, resembling the player who looked ready to become a superstar.
``I think you can see his reservoir of energy is limited,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said, ``but his first half was really good and obviously when we get him back, he will be fast and strong.''
With the strong showing against the Clippers, Phoenix also began to resemble the team that averaged a league-high 108.4 points per game last season.
``It wasn't always pretty, but we scored 64 points in the second half by playing hard, and that's what we have to do,'' D'Antoni said. ``Right now we're not in the greatest shape but we just have to push through it, push through the first two weeks and we'll be fine.''
The Suns have won six of the last eight meetings with the Jazz (1-0), including three straight at US Airways Center.
Utah hits the road for the first time after opening the regular season with a 107-97 win over Houston at home on Wednesday night.
The Jazz relied on veteran newcomer Derek Fisher to help them avoid blowing a 20-point lead. Signed as a free agent from Golden State in the offseason, the point guard had 13 points and six assists and formed a solid backcourt with second-year guard Deron Williams, who had 18 points and 10 assists.
``We're not going to be able to depend on one or two guys to carry us through the whole season,'' Fisher said. ``We have to play as a team, to think as a team and we did that for the most part tonight.''
Utah averaged only 92.4 points last season en route to a 41-41 record, but with the improvement of Williams, along with the addition of Fisher and a healthy Carlos Boozer, who had 24 points and 19 rebounds, the Jazz may be improved in 2006-07.
``As long as we ran our offense, we got decent shots,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ``I thought everybody was alive. Everybody was really playing hard to try to do the right thing.''
Utah went 19-22 on the road last season. Phoenix was 31-10 at home.
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