Phoenix 126, L.A. Lakers 98

PHOENIX, April 24 (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns put the pedal to the floor and left that Game 2 jinx, and the Los Angeles Lakers, buried in the dust.

The Suns revved up their frenetic style to near perfection on Tuesday night in a 126-98 rout that put Phoenix up 2-0 in the best-of-seven first-round series.

"It's hard to single things out,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Our defense was really good, our rebounding was really good, we really ran well, and I don't know if we can play any better than that.''

The Suns had lost five consecutive playoff Game 2s, including one at home against the Lakers a year ago. But it was apparent early that this would be no replay. Phoenix led by 21 in the second quarter and 28 in the third.

"A great performance,'' the usually hard-to-please Steve Nash said.

Leandro Barbosa, presented with the NBA Sixth Man Award trophy before tipoff, scored 26 to match his career playoff high for the second game in a row, leading six Suns in double figures.

"It was a big night for me,'' said Barbosa, whose mother and brother were in attendance after arriving from Brazil earlier in the day.

Nash had 16 points and 14 assists. Amare Stoudemire, who was watching in street clothes when the Suns lost Game 2 to the Lakers last year, added 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots - two of them spectacular ones against Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom to set the tone in the first quarter.

Nash and Stoudemire each played just 24 minutes. Both sat out the fourth quarter, getting some rest before Game 3 in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Shawn Marion had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Raja Bell scored 11, including 3-of-5 3-pointers. James Jones scored 12.

Bryant tried to beat the Suns by himself in Game 1. This time, he mainly deferred to his teammates. The strategy that worked so well a year ago was a flop.

The NBA's scoring champ, coming off a 39-point performance in the Lakers' 95-87 loss in Game 1 on Sunday, scored 15 on 5-of-13 shooting. He shot 1-of-6 and scored six points in the final three quarters. He took one shot in the second quarter, and missed.

"It was really embarrassing to come in here and lose such an important game the way we lost it,'' Odom said. "...We need to think about some things as a team. It's kind of sad, but I don't know that we're as close as a team right now as far as camaraderie and things like that. That's the only way you lose games like this - when you're not close.''

Bryant downplayed the impact of losing by such a large margin.

"In the playoffs, it doesn't matter,'' he said. "It's a loss, either way you cut it.''

Bryant was back in the game with his team down by 28 points in the fourth quarter, and said he didn't know why. During that time, he collided with Barbosa and rolled his right ankle. He walked it off and stayed in the game for a moment or so longer.

"It was 8:59,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It's not that late in the ball game.''

Plus, he said, "We wanted to get up our confidence and I thought Kobe was out of synch. He didn't shoot the ball well again, so I wanted him to get some rhythm.''

Neither Bryant nor Jackson thought the sore ankle would keep Bryant out of Game 3.

Phoenix took the lead for good in the first quarter, then really turned it on.

The Suns outscored the Lakers 24-9 to start the second, taking a 55-34 lead on Barbosa's 3-pointer with 4:50 left in the half.

After Los Angeles cut it to 62-47 on Bryant's two free throws with 1:25 to play, the Suns scored the final six points of the half - Marion's 9-foot runner, Nash's 21-footer and Boris Diaw's layup on a slick pass from Nash. Phoenix led 68-47 at the break.

That's 29 points more than the Suns managed in the first half of Game 1, when they trailed 48-39 at the break. They scored almost as many in the second quarter (37) as they did in the two first quarters of Game 1.

The Suns shot 54 percent for the game, and were above 60 percent during one span in the third quarter.

"It was like everything was working tonight on all cylinders,'' Marion said. "You can't ever go out there and play perfect, but I think we did everything we wanted on both ends of the floor.''

Jones' 3-pointer punctuated a 10-4 spurt to start the second half and made it 78-51. The lead reached 93-65 after Bell's 3-pointer with 2:40 to go in the third.

Barbosa missed his first three shots, then went 11-of-15 the rest of the way.

Notes: Phoenix never had a 2-0 advantage in any of its 10 previous playoff matchups with the Lakers. Overall, the Suns have been up 2-0 in any series only five times. ... Eleven teams have rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win a series, most recently Miami against Dallas in last year's finals. ... Phoenix had one turnover in the first half. ... Barbosa has 100 points in his last four playoff games against the Lakers.


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