|Suns rally from 22-point deficit in 2nd quarter; Hawks nearly squander 38-point lead in 3rd|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 01 April 2008 00:31|
Amare Stoudemire had 41 points and 14 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 36 points and the Suns rallied for a 132-117 victory over the Nuggets to reach 50 wins for the fourth straight season.
``At halftime, we came together and said, 'Let's fight for it,''' Stoudemire said. ``We dug in in the second half.''
The comeback matched the third-best in franchise history. The Suns, whose franchise record is 29, also rallied from a 22-point second-quarter deficit against the Boston Celtics in 1994.
At Memphis, Tenn., the Hawks squandered more than half of a 38-point, third-quarter lead before beating the Grizzlies 116-99 to give Memphis at least 55 losses for the second straight year.
When the Hawks built a 101-63 advantage late in the third quarter, they seemed to be cruising. However, Memphis closed with a 9-2 run and then opened the fourth with 13 consecutive points, part of a 23-4 run to start the period and cut the deficit to 12.
The rally made the game more interesting, and forced Atlanta to put its starters back in the game.
``I think (the Grizzlies) just kind of played recklessly, played with nothing to lose, played with a free attitude,'' said the Hawks' Josh Childress, who finished with 14 points. ``They made a couple of shots, and then they got going.''
In the other NBA games Monday night, it was: Indiana 105, Miami 85; Toronto 104, Charlotte 100; Utah 129, Washington 87; and Dallas 93, the Los Angeles Clippers 86.
Stoudemire had 16 points in the fourth quarter when the Suns outscored Denver 46-25. This was his franchise-record 11th 40-point game, his second this season. He has scored 30 or more points in five of his past six games.
Shaquille O'Neal had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Raja Bell had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, which tied the idle Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division.
J.R. Smith led the Nuggets with 23 points, Allen Iverson scored 21, Kenyon Martin 19, Carmelo Anthony finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Marcus Camby scored 16.
``We had a total meltdown,'' Iverson said. ``They were better in the second half when it mattered.''
Trailing 70-51 at halftime, the Suns were roundly booed by the sellout crowd of 18,422 at US Airways Center. The boos turned to cheers in the third quarter when the Suns twice cut the Nuggets' lead to three points before Denver finished the period leading 92-86 on a three-point play by Smith with 24 seconds remaining.
The cheers reached fever pitch in the fourth quarter, especially when the Suns took their first lead since midway through the opening period, 110-108 on a 3-pointer by Nash with 6:18 left. From there, the Suns continued to build their lead with strong offense and tight defense.
``I am proud of them just coming out with defense and offense together in the second half,'' Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``It was pretty potent.''
The Grizzlies elicited a similar change in sentiment from their home fans at the FedEx Forum, who had booed the team when it trailed by nearly 40. Those who hadn't given up and headed home were suddenly on their feet when Kyle Lowry's tip-in pulled Memphis to 107-95 midway through the fourth.
But the Hawks' advantage was just too much.
``It's just tough to see our team get down like we did, and we have to fight so hard to get back,'' said Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, who led Memphis with 29 points. ``I guess they came out here with the mind-set to move the ball and get everybody involved, and that's what they did.''
Atlanta won its fourth straight and kept a solid hold on the eighth playoff spot in the East, three games ahead of Indiana and New Jersey in ninth.
Pacers 105, Heat 85
Jermaine O'Neal scored nine points after sitting out for more than two months with a knee injury, and host Indiana won its second straight and sixth in the past eight.
Danny Granger led Indiana with 23 points and Mike Dunleavy added 18 for the Pacers, who went 12-21 in O'Neal's absence.
Raptors 104, Bobcats 100
Chris Bosh scored 32 points and visiting Toronto remained alone in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Anthony Parker added 20 points and T.J. Ford added 15, including the clinching free throw with 1.9 seconds left for the Raptors, who won for the third time in four games to pull a game ahead of idle Philadelphia in the playoff race.
Jason Richardson scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half, Gerald Wallace scored 20 points and Emeka Okafor had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Bobcats.
Jazz 129, Wizards 87
C.J. Miles scored a career-high 29 points and host Utah set a team record with 15 3-pointers.
Utah outrebounded Washington 40-23, had 40 assists on 50 field goals and shot almost 60 percent (50-for-84).
Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 22 points.
Mavericks 93, Clippers 86
Jason Kidd scored 27 points, Josh Howard got 12 of his 25 in the fourth quarter, and visiting Dallas held off Los Angeles.
Jason Terry had 20 points for the Mavericks, playing their fourth game since reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki went down with knee and ankle injuries.
Rookie Al Thornton scored 26 points for the Clippers, who trailed throughout while losing for the 19th time in 22 games.