Stoudemire sparks Suns' team-record 15th straight win

PHOENIX (AP) -- No. 15 in a row was a breeze for the Suns.

Amare Stoudemire dominated with 28 points and 10 rebounds in 28
minutes, and the Suns set a franchise record for consecutive
victories by beating the Toronto Raptors 115-98 Tuesday night.

"I'm just playing Phoenix Suns basketball." Stoudemire said.
"Tonight it was working my way, but as a team we came out and
played great basketball all the way around."

The Suns try to extend the NBA's longest winning streak in seven
seasons at Denver on Wednesday night.

Stoudemire was 11-for-14 from the field and sat out the final 15
minutes in arguably his most impressive outing since he returned
after missing all but three games of last season following
microfracture knee surgery.

"He's just so much quicker than most big guys," Toronto coach
Sam Mitchell said. "Our guys tried to get back and were running
hard, but it's just so hard to run with him. He gets down the court
so quick and he sucks in the defense. You very rarely see forwards
that fast."

Steve Nash had 10 points and 15 assists in three quarters for
Phoenix, which hasn't lost since an overtime setback at Utah on
Nov. 18. Six Suns reached double figures on Tuesday night. Shawn
Marion scored 17, Leandro Barbosa 14, Raja Bell 13 and Boris Diaw

"They are playing unbelievably well and have a lot of
confidence," Raptors center Rasho Nesterovic said. "Steve Nash is
just the head of the snake. He's unbelievable. You have to be in
perfect position the whole game to play good defense. Otherwise,
he'll punish you."

The Suns broke the franchise record of 14 straight set Dec.
1-30, 1992. The 15-game streak is the longest in the NBA since the
Los Angeles Lakers won 19 in a row from Feb. 4 to March 13, 2000.

"What does it really mean? Not much," Nash said, "but I think
it's fun, and I think it's an accomplishment nonetheless. We should
probably be proud of ourselves but at the same time realize it
doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot, either."

T.J. Ford scored 19 for injury-depleted Toronto before leaving
in the fourth quarter with a bruised lower back. Top draft pick
Andrea Bargnani added 18 for the Raptors.

Phoenix led by 27 in the third quarter, when coach Mike D'Antoni
began to rest his regulars. Bell scored the first seven points,
then Nash and Marion sank 3-pointers in a 17-0 outburst that gave
Phoenix a 75-50 with 5:54 to play in the third quarter.

"Everybody pitched in during certain spots in the game and made
two or three shots," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I thought
our defense was pretty good all night, and it was good we held them
to 40 percent shooting, and we're getting better."

Stoudemire scored 22 points in the first half on 10-of-13
shooting, many of them emphatic dunks on passes from Nash. The
Suns' MVP point guard was 0-for-5 shooting in the first half but
had 13 assists as Phoenix took a 53-42 lead at the break.

Stoudemire, who made 10 of his first 11 shots, had two
spectacular stuffs to ignite a 12-3 run that put Phoenix ahead
49-36 on Bell's 18-footer with 3:12 to play, the only basket for
the Suns' starting backcourt in the first half.

Ford had 11 points in the first half for Toronto, playing the
opener of a four-game road trip.<

^Notes:@ According to his agent, Allen Iverson probably won't
play for the Nuggets on Wednesday. ... The NBA record for
consecutive victories is 33 set by the Lakers from Nov. 5, 1971, to
Jan. 7, 1972. ... The Raptors' Jorge Garbajosa left the game in the
first half with a right calf strain. ...Toronto's Chris Bosh has
missed the last six games with a bruised left knee. ... Nash had
nine assists in the first quarter. ... It was the Raptors' first
trip to Phoenix since Bryan Colangelo resigned as Suns president
for a similar post in Toronto.

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