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Stoudemire takes command in third quarter

12/14/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Amare Stoudemire showed off his skills, and his best attribute might be his uncanny maturity.

The 20-year-old rookie had eight points in the decisive third quarter and Shawn Marion scored 24 as the Phoenix Suns beat the Atlanta Hawks 102-88 Saturday night.

Stoudemire finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds and had his way inside in the second half. The 6-foot-10 forward who turned pro straight from high school constantly beat defenders off the dribble and powered his way to offensive rebounds.

He even challenged Theo Ratliff, one of the top shot-blockers in the league, and often won those battles. All after shooting 2-of-7 in the first half and scoring just six points.

"I kept my composure and came out in the second half and played hard,'' Stoudemire said. "I came out ready.

"The chemistry was trying to blend in for our team. We weren't playing to our ability in the first half.''

The Suns won their third straight to end a five-game road trip and completed a season sweep of the Hawks. Atlanta lost its third straight after a two-game winning streak.

Phoenix trailed by one at the half but outscored the Hawks 30-16
in the third quarter and held a double-digit lead throughout the
fourth.

"We wanted it and we got it,'' Marion said. "We came out with intensity in the second half, and we made them turn the ball over.''

Stephon Marbury had 21 points and 10 assists for Phoenix.

Jason Terry scored 20 for Atlanta, going 4-of-9 from beyond the
3-point arc. Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 15, but leading scorer Glenn
Robinson shot only 5-of-18 and had 12 points.

The announced crowd of 7,851 was the fifth time in the past eight home games the Hawks have failed to draw at least 10,000.

"We talk about we need more fans, but I mean, who wants to see that, what we did?'' Atlanta guard Ira Newble said. "We don't have any desire to play hard as a team. We don't have any heart, the will to play defense as a team.

"We're losing simply because we're not playing aggressively. It's easy man, we just got to play hard. Nobody wants to see that.''

The Hawks led 40-28 midway through the second quarter after Abdur-Rahim hit a hook shot, but the Suns went on a 34-13 run which ran into the third quarter to take a nine-point lead. Another spurt later in the third, this one 10-2, ended any chance of an Atlanta comeback.

Despite taking the big early lead, the Hawks never appeared to have it together. They missed four dunks and had 16 turnovers, and after one particularly egregious error, coach Lon Kruger yelled, "That's not even a play.''

Afterward, Kruger said the lack of execution, more than not running the plays, led to his frustration.

"I don't think it's a matter of not running what's called,'' he said. "It's a matter of running it effectively and running it well. We've got good guys and they want to do well.''

Phoenix forward Scott Williams was ejected with 8:01 left after
receiving two technicals from referee Tony Brown. Williams had to
be restrained by teammates and an assistant coach as he was led to
the locker room.

Game notes
Hawks F Chris Crawford sat out with the game with a sore
knee, and he might have to go on the injured list. ... Phoenix F
Dan Langhi hadn't played in five of the six games (coaches'
decision), but played a season-high 18 minutes and scored 11
points. ... Atlanta was called for three defensive 3-second
violations. ... A youngster in the first row held a sign throughout
the first half which read, "My name is Casey Jacobsen too,'' in
reference to the Phoenix guard.