Suns News

Stoudemire Lifts Suns Past Jazz to Snap Four-Game Losing Skid

Amar'e Stoudemire registered 20 points and 22 rebound on Saturday night.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Jerry Brown,
Dec. 7, 2008

The Suns’ future is still a little blurry. But a least for one night, Amaré Stoudemire gave his team 20-20 vision and a clear example of what it’s going to take to get the job done moving forward.

The Suns still gave up too many offensive rebounds and second-chance points. But when Stoudemire collected 22 points and 20 rebounds – 11 of them on the offensive glass alone – the result was a 106-104 win over the Jazz that snapped a four-game losing streak and showed they still have plenty of fight in them.

Stoudemire came into the game averaging 7.7 rebounds and had just nine combined in the two losses to New Orleans and Dallas on the road this week.

But his 15 rebounds in the second half were more than he’d had in any single game this season (13), and the 11 rebounds he had in the fourth quarter were big reasons why Phoenix was able to survive.

“He was just unbelievable, getting all those offensive rebounds tonight,” Suns guard Steve Nash said. “It was just beautiful to see.”

Unless, of course you were sitting on the other bench.

“We had a difficult time keeping him off the offensive boards,” said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who was playing without leading scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer. “That breaks your back, those kinds of things.

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Shaquille O’Neal added a double-double of his own (15 points, 10 rebounds), but he picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter.

So with Raja Bell (scoreless in 18 minutes) and Grant Hill so-so in his return to the starting lineup – Phoenix coach Terry Porter surrounded Nash and Stoudemire with three reserves down the stretch, and the moves paid off.

Matt Barnes, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw combined for 51 points and 14 rebounds, with Barbosa scoring 25 himself – including six of the 18 free throws the Suns shot in the final quarter.

“It was a great game to win, obviously we needed it after the last four games,” Porter said. “The second half we were just a lot more aggressive, got to the free-throw line and really worked the boards. The tempo was good and we got a great lift from the bench.”

But it was Stoudemire’s fourth 20-20 game of his career that tipped the scales for the Suns.

“We knew we had to have this game. Our home crowd has been dying to see something special out of us,” said Stoudemire, who made sure Phoenix returned to the .500 mark (5-5) at US Airways Center. “We’re pretty much neck-and-neck with Utah in the standings and I wanted to make sure I attacked the boards. They always rebound well against us and I wanted to make sure I was the aggressor.”

The Suns led by as many as nine points in the first half but their own sloppiness kept the Jazz in the game.

Phoenix had 11 turnovers and Utah turned them into 19 points on the other end and tied the game at 50 on back-to-back jumpers by Deron Williams (15 points, 15 assists).

But the Suns had only six turnovers after intermission, outrebounded Utah 32-18 and shot 36 of their 40 free throws in the final 24 minutes – doing to the Jazz what a lot of teams had done to the Suns of late.

“The way we played tonight – we all chimed in, we all did our part – we had fun out there tonight,” Stoudemire said. “Maybe that’s a kick-start to what we’ve needed.”

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.