Phoenix 110, Portland 87

PHOENIX, Dec. 26 (AP) -- Leandro Barbosa is known as ``The Brazilian Blur'' because of his dazzling speed.

On Tuesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers got a taste of what Barbosa can accomplish when he gets running up and down the court.

Barbosa scored 20 points during a 6:21 span bridging the third and fourth quarters, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Trail Blazers 110-87 for their 16th win in 17 tries.

He didn't start well, missing five of his first six shots, then connected on eight straight and finished with 22 points.

"It was hard for me in the beginning, because we had ice under the court,'' Barbosa said. "Then I was just running up and down. I saw some space for me to get to the basket and I did.''

Shawn Marion led the Suns with 23 points and eight rebounds, Raja Bell added 18 points, Jumaine Jones scored a season-high 13 and Amare Stoudemire had 12.

Zach Randolph topped the Trail Blazers with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Jarrett Jack also scored 18 and Juan Dixon had 13.

The loss was the second straight for Portland after five consecutive victories.

Barbosa began his surge on a three-point play with 3:19 remaining in the third period and finished it with 3:02 gone in the fourth quarter on another three-point play as he continually knifed his way through the porous Portland defense.

``Watching LB was fun,'' said the Suns' Steve Nash, who has tutored Barbosa. ``He made some spectacular plays. He's so fast.''

Coach Mike D'Antoni also was impressed with the way Barbosa ran the court.

``He had a little stretch there,'' D'Antoni said. "He brought out his whole repertoire and he showed how fast he is.''

Marion also enjoyed Barbosa's spree, a stretch when the fleet-footed guard scored 21 of Phoenix's 27 points.

"We were just laughing,'' Marion said. "We couldn't believe it ourselves.''

Randolph was disappointed that the Trail Blazers got trapped into playing the Suns' style, mostly in the second half.

"They played Phoenix basketball and that's pushing the ball off the missed shots from the outside and they run it up your back and that's what they did,'' he said.

Portland coach Nate McMillan agreed with Randolph.

"They showed why a lot of people expect them to win a championship some day,'' McMillan said. "They are a strong team, a very difficult team to match up with their ability to spread the floor and they're very quick.''

In an uncharacteristically slow-paced and defense-minded first half for the Suns, they opened a 49-32 lead, with the help of 13 points by Marion, 12 by Bell and 10 by Stoudemire. The 32 points were the fewest allowed by the Suns this season, as were the 14 they permitted after the first quarter, when they led by 11.

Phoenix's biggest advantage in the opening 24 minutes was 21 points (49-28), before Jack closed the second period with two baskets, one on a goaltending call. In the half, the Blazers shot a paltry 37 percent (16-for-43), compared to Phoenix's 50 percent (21-for-42).

The pace picked up in the third quarter, as Barbosa tormented the Blazers' defense with his quick forays to the basket. Barbosa scored nine of Phoenix's last 13 points in the period and fed Marion for a soaring dunk off a fast break. Randolph kept Portland within striking distance with 10 points, but the Suns still led 76-57 at the end of the period.

Notes: The Dec. 20 postponed game between the Suns and Denver Nuggets at Denver has been rescheduled for Feb. 5. ... McMillan and D'Antoni were assistants on the USA team that won a bronze medal at the 2006 world championships in Japan. ... The Suns' victory was their 100th (against 82 losses) in the series between the teams and their eighth in the past nine games against Portland. ... Sean Marks made his season debut for Phoenix in the fourth period and scored two points.


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