Tuesday, April 20, 2010
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Suns beat Nuggets, get home-court edge in 1st round

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[April 20, 2010]  PHOENIX (AP) -- Amare Stoudemire scored 26 points and Steve Nash had 18 points and 10 assists before sitting out the fourth quarter while the Phoenix reserves completed a 123-101 rout of the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night that gave the Suns home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Suns made 14 of 24 3-pointers, 11 of 17 in the first three quarters. Phoenix jumped to an 18-2 lead and the Nuggets never cut it to single digits after the first quarter.

The Suns can finish no worse than No. 4 in the West and would be No. 3 if they win at Utah on Wednesday night. Denver, which finished its regular season, would get the No. 4 spot and a first-round home-court edge if Phoenix beats the Jazz.

Carmelo Anthony scored 29 and Chauncey Billups 16 in the Nuggets' 11th straight loss in Phoenix. Billups was 1 for 6 on 3s and did not have an assist in 34 minutes.

Phoenix, winner of 13 of its last 15, led by as many as 23 in the second quarter, was up 70-49 at the half and led 97-70 after three.

Denver's Kenyon Martin left the game in the second quarter because of patella tendinitis.

Six Phoenix players made 3s, including four reserves who were a combined 11 for 15. Channing Frye made 4 of 5 and scored 12 points. Jared Dudley was 3 of 4 for 11 points. The Nuggets, meanwhile shot 42 percent overall and 6 of 21 on 3s.

Denver made a brief stab at getting back in the game.

The Suns started the second half 1 of 5 shooting with four turnovers as Denver went on a 10-2 run to pull to 72-59 with 7:51 left in the third quarter.

Phoenix, though, scored the next nine -- a fastbreak dunk for a three-point play by Stoudemire, a 3-pointer by Frye and Nash's three-point play -- and it was 81-59 with 5:35 left in the quarter. The run reached 17-4 on another 3 by Frye to put Phoenix up 90-63 with 2::47 left in the third.

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It was some kind of shooting night for the NBA's highest-scoring team.

Nash made one from three-quarters court that didn't count because it came just after the first-quarter buzzer, Frye banked in a 3-pointer from 32 feet with 3 seconds left in the third quarter and Leandro Barbosa wrapped up the night with a 3 as the shot clock expired with 2.8 seconds to play.

Jason Richardson scored seven of his 14 as Phoenix shot to its 18-2 lead.

J.R. Smith made two 3s and a 12-footer to cut it to 31-23. The Nuggets never got that close again.

After Anthony had two shots blocked under the basket, Denver's fill-in coach Adrian Dantley and Billups drew technical fouls. Nash made both free throws to make it 65-45 1 1/2 minutes before halftime. Dudley followed with his third 3 in three tries.

Anthony's three-point play cut the lead to 68-49, then Nash made a slick dribble drive through the defense for a layup to give Phoenix its 70-49 halftime lead.


NOTES: Nash is a cinch to become the fifth player in NBA history to lead the league in assists at least four times. ... Denver last won at Phoenix on April 7, 2004, the season before Nash signed with the Suns. ... The Nuggets were without coach George Karl for the 14th consecutive game while he fights throat and neck cancer. ... Phoenix won the season series 3-1.

[Associated Press; By BOB BAUM]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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