Phoenix 116, Denver 113

PHOENIX, Oct. 25 (AP) -- Rookie D.J. Strawberry's 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining lifted Phoenix to a 116-113 preseason victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, as the Suns celebrated All-Star Amare Stoudemire's return to the lineup.

The Nuggets, rallying from a 12-point third-quarter deficit, tied the score 113-113 on JR Smith's free throw with 1:02 left. But Strawberry, who finished with 14 points, bailed out the Suns (5-2).

Grant Hill led a balanced Phoenix attack with 17 points. Steve Nash had 14 points and 10 assists, Shawn Marion had 14 points and eight rebounds, Raja Bell scored 13 and rookie Alando Tucker had 12.

Allen Iverson led Denver with 24 points, Carmelo Anthony scored 22 and Smith finished with 17. Smith missed two free throws with 2.3 seconds left.

Anthony and Iverson combined to outscore the Suns in the first period (24-22) as the Nuggets built a 32-22 lead. Anthony, working inside, had 13 points, and Iverson, hitting mostly jumpers, scored 11.

The Nuggets (4-3) then let their reserves handle the scoring for most of the second quarter, until Anthony and Iverson returned late in the period and helped Denver to a 66-54 halftime edge. Anthony finished the half with 19 points and Iverson had 15.

Stoudemire, playing his first exhibition game since arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Oct. 2, had no trouble shooting the ball but his ballhandling showed signs of rustiness. Playing 12 minutes in the first half, he was 3-for-3 from the field, made both his free-throw attempts and grabbed four rebounds, but committed three turnovers. He finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes.

Overall, the sloppy Suns had 14 turnovers in the first two quarters, leading to 20 Denver points. The Nuggets turned the ball over seven times, accounting for 10 Phoenix points.

Both teams were missing key guards. The Suns were without Leandro Barbosa, last season's sixth man of the year in the league. He was out with bruised ribs he got in Sunday's exhibition win over Charlotte, but is expected to be ready for the season Nov. 1 at Seattle. The Nuggets were without Anthony Carter, who has missed all of the preseason with a metacarpal fracture of the right hand.

Also missing from the Nuggets' lineup was center Marcus Camby, because of back spasms, and guard Chucky Atkins left the game with 8:37 remaining because of a groin injury. The Suns also lost center Brian Skinner with 11:03 left with a right ankle sprain.

The game was televised on TNT after the cable network switched from the scheduled Los Angeles Lakers-Utah Jazz game at San Diego Sports Arena because of the wildfires.

The teams played on a new $100,000 floor which the Suns installed before Tuesday's public scrimmage.

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