tampabay.com

Stoudemire sparks big first half

By wire services
Published March 24, 2006


PHOENIX - Amare Stoudemire's return to the lineup sparked Phoenix to the biggest first half in the NBA this season, and the Suns beat the Portland Trail Blazers 125-108 Thursday night.

Stoudemire had 20 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes to lead the Suns, who scored an NBA season-high 76 in the first half. Seven Suns scored in double figures as Phoenix snapped a two-game losing streak.

Viktor Khryapa scored 22 and had 12 rebounds for Portland, which lost its sixth straight game since defeating the Suns in Portland on March 12.

Thursday's game was Stoudemire's first appearance in 294 days. His last action came in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, when he scored a playoff career-high 42 against San Antonio. Stoudemire has been sidelined all season after undergoing left knee surgery Oct. 11.

Stoudemire opened the Suns' scoring with an 18-foot jumper and followed on a put-back, drawing a foul on Khryapa and hitting the free throw. Stoudemire scored on another rebound a minute later.

With Stoudemire dominating, the Suns sprinted to a 19-10 lead by the time he went to the bench with 6:46 to play in the first. The Suns sagged when Stoudemire sat down. Portland had pulled to within 49-47 before Stoudemire returned with 7:48 to go in the second. On the Suns' first possession, Stoudemire feinted a drive past center Brian Skinner and hit a 15-foot jumper.

NETS 86, TIMBERWOLVES 82: Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson each scored 21 for host New Jersey (38-29), which improved to a season-best 11 games over .500 and have won 15 of its last 18 home games. The Nets' Clifford Robinson made two 3-pointers down the stretch to help hold off the Timberwolves. The second came with 53 seconds remaining and gave the Nets an 83-79 lead.

GRIZZLIES 95, CLIPPERS 85: Eddie Jones scored 23 and reserve Mike Miller added 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead host Memphis, which capped a 5-1 homestand and shot 60 percent in the first quarter to take a 26-18 lead and never trailed.

ROCKETS 93, HORNETS 92: Yao Ming and Rafer Alston each scored 22 to lead Houston down the stretch, snapping a six-game losing streak at Oklahoma City. The Hornets erased a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit and took an 84-83 lead on David West's right-handed fast-break jam, but Alston answered with buzzer-beating jumpers as Houston scored the next eight.

WARRIORS 122, MAVERICKS 121: Jason Richardson scored 40, including a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to lead visiting Golden State. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 51 points, his highest regulation total ever and two short of his career high. The Mavs missed three free throws in the final 30 seconds that proved costly.

WIZARDS 109, JAZZ 97: Gilbert Arenas scored 31, and visiting Washington set a franchise record with 16 3-pointers. The Jazz never recovered after falling behind by 16 in the fourth.

HEAT: Backup center Alonzo Mourning has a partial tear in his left calf and is out two to four weeks.

RAPTORS: Antonio Davis was waived effectively ending a season in which the center was suspended for five games for climbing into the stands after his wife got into a confrontation with a fan in Chicago.