Phoenix 114, Charlotte 84

Charlotte, Dec. 10 (AP) -- Amare Stoudemire is letting his game do his talking, and after a tough start, the Phoenix Suns look as if they're serious Western Conference contenders.

Stoudemire had 22 points and 12 rebounds to help the Suns win their 10th consecutive game, 114-84 over the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday.

Stoudemire had his seventh double-double in eight games as Phoenix posted its biggest win during the streak.

``We played good basketball tonight,'' Stoudemire said. ``That's what it takes to win in this league. ... We took what the defense gave us. We scored points in the paint and points outside the paint.

``Our goal is to win the championship, and I feel if I can get better we've got a better chance to win it.''

Boris Diaw added 17 points for the Suns, Leandro Barbosa had 15, and Shawn Marion and Raja Bell had 14 each. Steve Nash had 11 points and 10 assists.

``We had different guys step up at different times,'' Phoenix head coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``Let's face it - we are on a streak, and we don't want to mess it up by not having enough energy. We'll get beat, but we want to make sure the other team beats us and not beat ourselves.''

Sean May scored a career-high 26 points for the Bobcats, who suffered their third straight loss, all by 20 or more points. They tied a franchise record for largest margin of defeat set two days earlier against Houston.

Raymond Felton added 14 points for Charlotte, and Emeka Okafor and Matt Carroll had 12 each.

The Bobcats hit their first three shots and 9-of-13 in the opening eight minutes, and took a 20-13 lead on Carroll's 22-footer at the 4:07 mark. Charlotte led 30-27 after the first quarter.

But Phoenix opened the second quarter with a 13-8 run - capped by a Diaw layup with 7:58 left - to take the lead, and were ahead 57-54 at halftime.

``We didn't play well in the first half, and we were still up three points,'' Nash said. ``We all realized that we were not very good in the first half ... (and) we had to pick it up.

``If you want to win games in this league, you just can't walk out and expect to win. You've got to go out and earn it. In the second half, we earned it.''

The Bobcats tied the score at 57 on Felton's 3-pointer to open the third quarter, but Nash scored seven points during a 15-0 run that put the Suns ahead 72-57.

Charlotte struggled to find its range in the second half, shooting just 10-of-36 from the field and equaling its season low with 13 fourth-quarter points.

``We were real stagnant offensively as far as movement. We're not sharing the basketball. We're playing tight as a basketball team,'' Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. ``We lack confidence as a basketball team. The teams we are playing right now understand how to kill and have the killer instinct. ... We have to perform, it's that simple. We look at our starting unit right now, and we are not getting much out of it.''

Phoenix continued to stretch its lead, going up 90-71 at the end of the third quarter and leading by as many as 36 points late in the fourth quarter.

``We just have a lot of good players,'' D'Antoni said. ``Every guy can score. We passed the ball and weren't selfish, and just took what the other team gave us. ... One thing I think we can continue to do is keep getting better. I don't think we are there yet, but we have a lot of good things going on.''

Notes: Charlotte point guard Brevin Knight, the team's assist leader and fourth-leading scorer, missed his second straight game after straining his left calf in the Bobcats' loss to San Antonio on Dec. 6. ... Bobcats rookie Adam Morrison's shooting woes continued Sunday. He scored three points on 1-of-8 shooting, and has gone 4-of-34 in his last four games.


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