Stoudemire leads Suns with 24 points as Hawks lose sixth of last seven

PHOENIX (AP) -- What a difference Amare Stoudemire makes.

When the Phoenix Suns played at Atlanta in November, Stoudemire was injured and did not play. Tuesday night, Stoudemire was in the Suns' lineup, scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half and Phoenix rolled to a 125-92 victory over the Hawks.

Stoudemire, who played only eight minutes in the second half, made 10 of his 11 field goal attempts and four of his five free throws. He also had a team-high seven rebounds and four blocks of the Suns' franchise-record 19 blocks -- also a league high this season.

This was the Suns' season-best sixth straight home triumph and their most lopsided victory of the year. They now are 19-2 against Eastern Conference teams. They shot a season-high 64.2 percent (52-of-81) from the field.

"Amare had one of his typical performances," Steve Nash said. "He got everything around the basket and dominated."

"He was awesome," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "[Recently] he's been able to be aggressive without fouling."

Stoudemire didn't address his own game as much as he did the team's performance, especially on defense.

"We came out with a lot of intensity," he said. "We were ready. Defensively, we were very active and that's what it takes. Defense -- that's what the game's about. That was probably our best defensive game. We held them to about 27 percent shooting until the last couple of minutes when they made a couple of shots and went up to 34."

Shawn Marion added 19 points for the Suns, while Boris Diaw and Grant Hill had 16 apiece, Leandro Barbosa scored 13, and Steve Nash had 10 points and 10 assists.

Marvin Williams scored 18 points for the Hawks, who lost for the sixth time in seven games. Josh Childress scored 17 points and Zaza Pachulia had 12. Joe Johnson, the Hawks' leading scorer (21.6) who had averaged 25 points against the Suns since being traded from Phoenix to Atlanta in 2004, was limited to nine points on 3-for-14 shooting.

With Stoudemire busting through and around the Hawks' defense and also hitting from the outside, the Suns built a 52-33 lead by halftime. Stoudemire scored 13 points in the second quarter, including a vicious tomahawk dunk, as the Suns padded their 11-point, first-period lead, 28-17, to 19 points by intermission.

Stoudemire hit his first six shots and finished the half 9-of-10.

Overall, Phoenix hit 21-for-36 (58.3 percent) in the opening two quarters, while the misfiring Hawks connected on only 15-of-54 (27.8 percent). Atlanta's 33 points at halftime were a season low for a Suns' opponent.

The Hawks frustration showed early, as they were assessed two technical fouls for arguing calls -- one each to coach Mike Woodson and one to Al Horford.

They also were frustrated by the Suns' defense, which tied a franchise record with eight blocked shots in the first quarter.

Woodson was upset with his team's poor showing.

"We just didn't show up tonight," he said. "Marvin [Williams] was pretty good tonight, he competed. The other four guys didn't compete and it showed across the board. [We] should be embarrassed."

Johnson agreed with his coach.

"We just weren't ready to play," he said.

Marion and Hill took over the brunt of the scoring in the third period when the Suns widened their margin to 24 points, 90-66. Marion had 12 points in the period, including two alley-oops, and Hill, back after missing some time with back spasms, scored 11 in the Suns' 38-point outburst. During the period, Phoenix hit a sizzling 16-of-23 (69.6 percent).

Game notes
The Suns, who had played the fewest home games of any team in the Western Conference (19), now play 10 of their next 11 games at home. Their only road game between now and Feb. 24 is at Golden State Feb. 13. ... The Hawks won the first meeting between the teams this season, 105-96, at Atlanta Nov. 7, but Stoudemire didn't play. It is the Suns' only road loss to an Eastern Conference team this season. ... Hill, who had played only four minutes in the Suns' previous two games, came off the bench for only the seventh time in 673 NBA games. ... The Suns' previous biggest margin of victory was 24 points, 116-92, against New Jersey on Jan. 20.

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