The Phoenix Suns have not lost since Amare Stoudemire returned, though he is far from the only reason they have gotten back on such a roll offensively.
Back to their high-scoring ways following a relatively slow start, the Suns go for a sixth consecutive victory when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
Stoudemire sat out three games earlier this month due to soreness in his right knee, having undergone arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 2. Phoenix is 5-0 since he rejoined the lineup, and the All-Star center has looked a lot closer to full strength in the last three games, averaging 20.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.0 blocks.
"For me it is a matter of getting stronger as the season goes on," Stoudemire said. "I'm not where I want to be but I am working on it."
The Suns (8-2) have scored more than 110 points in three straight games, shooting 56.1 percent from the field and going 27-of-62 from 3-point range (43.5 percent).
The league's highest-scoring team of the past three seasons was not playing nearly as well offensively through its first seven games, averaging 104.3 points while making 45.7 percent from the floor. Phoenix's only two losses came when it failed to score 100 points.
"We don't quite have the same flow (as last season) but we are playing well," said Steve Nash, who had 15 assists for a second straight game Saturday in a 115-105 win at Houston.
The last three games also have seen offseason acquisition Grant Hill step up to average 21.0 points, shooting 24-of-36 from the field.
"He is even better than what I thought," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He has all the intangibles out on the court."
Shawn Marion had his seventh double-double of the season Saturday with 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a season-high four blocks. He's averaged 20.7 points - three above his season average - in the last three games.
Over the last four games, Leandro Barbosa has averaged a team-high 27.0 points while starting three times for an injured Raja Bell (sprained ankle). Suns coach Mike D'Antoni believes Bell could be ready to play Tuesday.
Having the All-Defensive first teamer available would be a big help to the Suns so they could stick him on Kings guard Kevin Martin, the league's second-leading scorer at 27.3 points per game.
Two days after scoring a career-high 43 points as Sacramento (4-6) beat New York in double overtime, Martin was held to a season-low 19 on Sunday in a 105-95 victory over Detroit.
His new starting backcourt mate, Beno Udrih, had 23 points and six assists in the latest victory. Acquired during the preseason after being cut by San Antonio, Udrih has started the last three games at point guard after Orien Greene and Francisco Garcia were unable to hold down the job in place of the injured Mike Bibby.
With Bibby (thumb) is expected to be out until mid-December, Udrih has averaged 16.7 points and 5.7 assists since becoming the starter.
"I chose this team because I knew I would get an opportunity to play; I didn't get that in San Antonio," Udrih said. "Playing regular minutes has helped my confidence."
The Kings have won back-to-back games, something they failed to do during their previous 30 contests.
Sunday's victory over an elite team like the Pistons should provide a confidence boost for Sacramento, considering its other three victories were against three of the league's worst teams - Seattle, Minnesota and New York.
"I've always thought they're pretty tough, I just think that they have to have some success to start to believe in themselves," first-year Kings coach Reggie Theus said of his players. "Double-overtime game against a tough club the other night and this one should show them what they can do if they stick with it."
Phoenix had won five straight meetings with Sacramento before losing the most recent one, 107-100 at Arco Arena on March 25.
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