Suns gain first season sweep over Knicks since 1994-95

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns' big three came up big again
against the overmatched New York Knicks.

Amare Stoudemire had 32 points and 15 rebounds, Steve Nash added
26 points and 14 assists, and Shawn Marion had 23 points and 10
rebounds, leading the Suns to a 114-106 comeback victory over the
travel-weary Knicks on Saturday night.

The victory was the seventh in eight games for the Suns (38-11)
and strengthened their lead in the NBA's Pacific Division. It also
gave them their first season sweep over the Knicks since 1994-95.

They easily beat the Knicks 133-118 in New York on Jan. 25 when
Stoudemire had 29 points and nine rebounds, Marion had 20 points
and 11 rebounds, and Nash had 24 points and four assists.

Saturday's win was much tougher than the first, because the Suns
didn't take command until the fourth quarter.

"We had to pick up our intensity," Marion said. "We just got
a little more aggressive. We were lethargic (early). When we got
more energy, we were all right. In the fourth quarter, we got some
loose balls, it started going our way and we opened up the game a

Stoudemire agreed.

"We played extremely well in the fourth to close it out," he
said. "In the fourth, we outran them, outscored them and
outrebounded them."

The Knicks (18-29), who have tumbled from first place to last in
the Atlantic Division in the past month and are 2-7 since Herb
Williams replaced Lenny Wilkens as coach, have lost 12 of their
last 13. They also have lost nine straight road games.

Former Suns guard Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with 33 points.
He was booed during the final 3 minutes after grabbing Nash as the
Phoenix playmaker drove toward the basket.

"I don't know if it was flagrant or if he didn't want me to get
a shot off," Nash said.

Marbury said he was not trying to injure Nash.

"That's not how I play," he said. "I'm not out there to hurt

Marbury was not bothered by the booing from the crowd of 18,422.

"I guess it's natural to react that way," he said. "If that
was to happen in New York, the fans would boo, too."

Jamal Crawford had 15 points for the Knicks, and Kurt Thomas
grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds. Crawford sprained his left ankle
late in the game, but X-rays afterward proved negative.

The pesky Knicks stayed with the Suns for three periods. Then,
Phoenix opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run. Stoudemire
capped the burst with a fast-break slam dunk, giving Phoenix a
90-81 lead.

The tired Knicks, who lost 116-115 at Sacramento on Friday
night, took a surprising 53-52 halftime lead by outscoring the Suns
10-2 in the final 3 minutes of the second period. Marbury capped
the surge with a driving layup with 4 seconds left. He finished the
half with 16 points.

New York also had a big rebounding edge, 29-20, with Thomas
grabbing 11, helping the Knicks to an 11-0 advantage in
second-chance points. They finished with a 17-4 advantage in that
category, but the Suns led 26-9 in fast-break points.

The usually sharpshooting Suns' starters shot a paltry 15-for-40
(37 percent) and the team went to the foul line only six times,
hitting all six, compared to the Knicks. who were 12-of-15.

The Knicks continued to pound the boards in the third quarter,
and by the end of the period, they had a 45-30 rebounding margin
and led 81-79. Thomas continued to dominate underneath, increasing
his rebound total to 17. Meanwhile, Marbury kept up his offensive
assault, producing eight more points.

Game notes
It was '80s night at America West Arena, with spectators
encouraged to dress in attire from that era. Adding to the
promotion, Suns players and coaches from that period were in
attendance, including Tom Chambers, Eddie Johnson, Dan Majerle,
Alvan Adams, Dick Van Arsdale, Al Bianchi, Mark West and John
MacLeod. ... Thomas had nine rebounds in the first quarter, as many
as the entire Suns team. ... Nash is the only player in the league
averaging double figures (11.1) in assists. ... The Knicks are 6-14
in games decided by six points or less. Last season, they finished
19-13 in that statistic. ... The Suns are on pace to break their
franchise record for 3-pointers 460 through 49 games. The franchise
high is 584, set in the 1994-95 season.