STAT’s 35-13 Night Helps Shoot Down Rockets
Posted: April 11, 2010
Not one to correct Darth Vader’s iconic quote, “The Force is strong with this one,” on Sunday maybe it should have read, “The Force is strong with No. 1.”
On an evening dominated by “Star Wars: The Clone Wars Night,” it was Amar’e Stoudemire who shined with his steller all-around play as the Suns beat the Rockets, 116-106.
The All-Star forward racked up game highs with 35 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in 41 minutes – his 15th 30-point effort of the season and his 11th since the All-Star break. Going 7-of-9 from the free throw line, he also became the third player in franchise history to reach 4,000 free throw attempts in a Phoenix uniform, joining Suns Ring of Honor greats Kevin Johnson and Dick Van Arsdale.
Entering the game averaging 28 ppg in the previous three games vs. Houston this year, STAT helped the Suns to their 10th head-to-head season series sweep of 2009-10.
“I thought Amar’e had a monster game,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said, “but it’s nothing that he hasn’t done the past two months.”
Officially receiving his NBA Western Conference Player of the Month award for March before the game, Stoudemire got hot in the second half, ultimately going 14-of-25 from the field and helping give Phoenix a perfect 6-0 record this season in Sunday games.
“I knew in the fourth quarter, we had to ramp it up a notch,” he said. “The game wasn’t quite going our way – they were playing well and knocking down open shots – it was hard going there for a little while, and so in the fourth quarter I knew I had to bring intensity and dominate. That was the plan… get the crowd going and get our team really amped up and ready to go. That was the turning point.”
Normally known for turning the scoring tide with his offense, the big man also provided some much-needed energy down the stretch with a key fourth-quarter out-of-bounds save that eventually turned into two points via a dunk.
“Amar’e made a few plays tonight,” said Steve Nash, who finished with 23 points and a game-high 11 assists. “Obviously he scored a bunch of points, and he was great as usual, but he made some hustle plays that were fantastic. That really gave us an opportunity to take some pressure off ourselves.”
Despite a shaky start to the second half Sunday vs. Houston, the Suns now have the same record as the idle Nuggets and Jazz with two games to go. Phoenix hosts Denver in the regular-season home finale Tuesday, before finishing out the schedule in Utah on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be like this the next two games,” Jason Richardson said. “Both of those teams are fighting for home court, and we’re fighting for home court, so these next two will definitely be playoff games.”
"SUNS FOR THREE” X 700
With a Goran Dragic three-pointer early in the second quarter, the 2009-10 Suns became the fourth club in franchise history to make 700 or more threes in a single season – coincidentaly a plateau reached the last three consecutive years.
As for some fourth-quarter heroics from beyond the arc, the Suns finally pulled away late in the game, thanks to four consecutive longballs from Steve Nash, Jason Richardson and two from Channing Frye.
“It started with Steve hitting a three,” said J-Rich, who was 2-of-4 from outside on the night, “then Channing hit one, I hit one and Channing came back and hit another one. The game was on the line, and everyone on the team stepped up.”
"STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS NIGHT”
The Suns paid homage to filmmaker George Lucas’ blockbuster science-fiction franchise with US Airways Center’s first-ever “Star Wars: The Clone Wars Night.” In addition to a fan costume contest, there were character appearances from the film series including Darth Vader, Boba Fett, stormtroopers, clone troopers and scout troopers. The Suns Dancers even got in on the intergalactic fun and donned their version of the famous Princess Leia slave outfit from “Return of the Jedi.” But the highlight of the night had to go to “Obi-Wan Go-nobi” who battled the Rockets mascot “Darth Clutch” in an epic video-montaged light-saber battle throughout the arena.
“I was never into it growing up,” said Jason Richardon about the Star Wars phenomeon, “but watching the fans get into it was pretty cool."
LOPEZ INJURY UPDATE
Injured Suns center Robin Lopez will be re-evaluated Monday. Lopez has missed seven games with a bulging disc in his back, but has worked with the Suns’ Head Athletic Trainer Aaron Nelson and his staff through a conservative treatment of medication, rest and rehabilitation.
Obviously, Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry would love to have his starting center back in the lineup, but he is understandibly preparing to play without him heading into the postseason, if need be.
“I hope I’m wrong,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I hope we end up getting him, but we’ll have to see how that goes. We’ve had some success without him, but we’d obviously perfer to have him. In playoff basketball, to have that size in there, it really helps.”
SPIELBERG… SCORSESE… STEVE NASH?
While filmmaker Steve Nash is quickly making an online name for himself thanks to his plethora of recent viral videos, he and his cousin Ezra Holland will soon expand to their first long-format documentary with their upcoming ESPN 30-for-30 entry, “Into the Wind” – a project tracing Canadian humanitarian and national hero Terry Fox and his 3,339-mile “Marathon of Hope” across Canada in the summer of 1980.
While the official premiere airdate has yet to be determined, what isn’t up in the air is Holland’s opinion of his Meathawk Productions partner when it comes to the filmmaking process.
“Steve’s incredible,” Holland told Suns.com. “He’s very quick-witted, which isn’t necessarily what you would imagine would be required for something like this. He can very quickly get to the crux of any issue, and he’s always looking for a decision to be made. I imagine a lot of that comes from what he does (on the court), making decisions all the time. He’s very good at that, and he’s very thoughtful. He likes to test ideas, so he’s very good at entertaining things rather than dismissing them as not working. He likes to see where an idea can be taken. He’s very interesting to work with, and he’s obviously used to the dynamic of working within a team.”