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Shorthanded Bucks can't keep up with Suns

11/26/2002

PHOENIX (AP) -- There isn't much finesse to rookie Amare Stoudemire's game yet, just boundless energy and raw power.

Stoudemire had his first NBA double-double with career highs of
15 points and 13 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns beat the short-handed
Milwaukee Bucks 86-81 on Monday night.

''He's going to be a very good basketball player,'' Milwaukee
coach George Karl said. ''Offensively, he's got some learning to
do, but he's got a great physical skill of rebounding the ball,
first-class.''

Shawn Marion had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Suns, who
beat the Bucks in Phoenix for the 15th consecutive time. Milwaukee
has lost 21 of 23 overall to the Suns.

The Bucks were without the injured Ray Allen and Anthony Mason.
Allen was placed on the injured list Monday after spraining his
right ankle landing on Shaquille O'Neal's foot in Sunday's loss to
the Lakers.

Mason was sidelined with a left hamstring strain. A third
starter, Tim Thomas, didn't play in the second half because of a
sore back.

Sam Cassell scored 22 for the Bucks. Michael Redd, starting in
place of Allen, added 21 points and 11 rebounds.

''We were undermanned, but we've got to keep trying,'' Redd
said. ''Guys are going to be out. It's really going to be a test
for our bench now to step up.''

The Suns took a 70-62 lead on Marion's 3-pointer with 6:50 to
play.

Stoudemire, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound first-round draft pick out of
high school who turned 20 on Nov. 16, shot just 4-for-13 but was a
force inside throughout. He grabbed his own miss, scored and was
fouled for a three-point play that put Phoenix up 73-64 with 5:38
left. He also had a spectacular block of Marcus Haislip's dunk
attempt in the final minute.

''I guess that's what I bring to the team -- energy and physical
play,'' Stoudemire said. ''So I just try to bring it every night.''

Stoudemire said he's been bothered by a sore hip the last couple
of weeks, and that explains his recent struggles.

''I'm a warrior, so I just have to come out and play hard,'' he
said. ''Now that my hip is kind of getting better, my game is
getting better.''

Redd's 3-pointer cut the lead to 80-75 with 2 minutes remaining.
Kevin Ollie's drive to the basket wasn't even close under
Stoudemire's defense, and Marion's breakaway layup made it 82-75
with 1:22 to play.

Penny Hardaway, who scored seven of his nine points in the last
4:11, sealed it with an 18-footer that gave Phoenix an 84-77 lead
with 55.5 seconds to play. The Suns won despite shooting 38 percent
and missing 12 of 28 free throws.

''That's what we're doing right now. We just have to keep
finding ways to pull games out,'' coach Frank Johnson said. ''It's
never going to be easy for us.''

The Suns, who snapped a three-game losing streak, outrebounded
the Bucks 54-41, 19-6 on the offensive boards.

''That's probably why we lost the game,'' Karl said.

Neither team led by more than seven in the first half, which
ended in a 47-47 tie.

Casey Jacobsen's baseline drive put Phoenix up 32-25 with 9:55
left in the half, but the Bucks used a 16-6 run to go up 41-38 on
Ervin Johnson's tip-in 3:50 before halftime.

Stoudemire, in his second NBA start for injured Tom Gugliotta,
had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half.

The Suns outscored the Bucks 14-10 in a cold-shooting third
quarter to lead 61-57 going into the fourth. Phoenix was 7-for-22
and Milwaukee 5-for-20 in the third quarter.

''The third quarter slowed down and both teams got sloppy,''
Karl said. ''It's tough to overcome that when you're short-handed
and on the road.''

The Suns' Stephon Marbury had 11 points and 12 assists.

Game notes
Phoenix is 5-2 at home. ... The Bucks finished their
three-game road trip to the West 1-2. ... Milwaukee is 0-10 at
America West Arena. ... Allen can come off the injured list at any
time because he wasn't replaced on the active roster. ...
Stoudemire's previous highs were 12 points and eight rebounds. ...
Phoenix shot 38 percent, Milwaukee 39 percent.