Updated: Dec. 6, 2006, 3:11 AM ET

Suns shine, but not on boards

A look at the Phoenix Suns after their 127-102 win Tuesday over the Ron Artest-less Sacramento Kings. Steve Nash, 20 dimes. And yes, that was Pat Burke draining three garbage-time 3-pointers. Let's talk it over . . .

The Suns have won seven straight. You are a confirmed fan of their style. Find some flaws, please.

The last two seasons they have held their own on the boards. But now they're being obliterated in that category, ranking 23rd in the league, minus 3.7 margin per game. That's my concern, that they can't get a rebound. Boris Diaw and Shawn Marion and James Jones and Raja Bell have to contribute here.

As for Mike D'Antoni's recent plea for more D?

Lip service and he knows it. Yes, you need the stops in the fourth quarter, but they're going to win because of their superior firepower.

Amare Stoudemire has 17 points and 13 rebounds in the win, having gone over 20-10 in his four most recent games. Update the Amare watch.

He's getting the lift, but he still looks a little tentative with his straight up and down the court running. I can understand that with a knee injury. But his play overall makes them look like the NBA finalist I picked them to be.

There's Leandro Barbosa showing that extra gear again.

Can't think of a faster guy coming around the corner on a pick-and-roll. He's added that speed element that they didn't have before.

Kobe's buddy Raja Bell has made 48 percent of his 3s, and just missed having made at least four 3s in his last seven games.

He established himself last year. Now we're seeing more of what he can do.

This game would have been more interesting had Kings forward Artest not missed his third straight game with back woes. He wants the ball more. Is he right?

Absolutely. He needs to be the primary focus of their offense. Anybody who guards him, it's a mismatch. I don't care as much about the emergence of Kevin Martin, or Mike Bibby's offense. You're not going to win relying on perimeter guys like that. With Artest, you have a chance to play physically with anybody.

Is his shot-clock running down in Sacramento?

The fuse is lit. His discontent meter goes from zero to 100 mph in a snap. Once his switch of discontent is turned on, it's not going off.

Did we mention Steve Nash had 20 assists, nine in the first quarter, yawn?

He's the Wayne Gretzky of basketball. Canadian like Steve, too.

The Suns now embark on a five-game road trip that brings them up against the Nets, Celtics, Bobcats, Magic and Heat. Predictions, please.

The Magic will be up for them as a team trying to establish themselves with the best out there. Sounds like a 4-1 trip, 3-2 at worst.

ESPN analyst Tim Legler sank 43 percent of his NBA 3-point attempts.

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The Old College Try
Kobe hobbled
AP Photo/Duane Burleson
Zach Randolph kept the Pistons and Rasheed Wallace at arms' length in an 88-85 win. "I love playing in Detroit," he said. "I went to college [Michigan State] around here, and I love coming back."

Observation Deck: Runaway success
Shawn Marion

COME BACK! The Suns expended so much energy and scored so many points in the first quarter that when Shawn Marion hit a jumper at the buzzer for their 41st point, he immediately ran into the locker room as if it were halftime. His teammates were literally holding their sides, and each other, cracking up.

NASH LESSONS: The NBA and USA Basketball should put together a collection called "How to play the point" starring nothing but Steve Nash footage and distribute it to every middle and high school in America. He defines the position: economical with the dribble, totally ambidextrous, always looking for angles to get his teammates the ball, and an excellent finisher and shooter.

ROCKETS, MAN: While all of the "experts" are hot and bothered about the big 3 in the West, plus Utah, I'm thinking that the Rockets and Lakers are just as lethal. And might ultimately be better in a seven-game series than any of the big 3.

-- David Thorpe

News And Notes
Bonzi Wells

Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy continues to be vague about the status of offseason pickup Bonzi Wells, who's been inactive for the last 14 games. Van Gundy said Wells had a recent hamstring injury, but gave little more explanation why Wells hasn't been playing. "The less I say, the more likely it is to come to a positive conclusion," he said.

Anthony Roberson replaced Troy Murphy in the Golden State lineup and made his first start of the season. Murphy scored one point and grabbed one rebound in 14 minutes in Monday's 129-89 loss to San Antonio.

• The Rockets topped 100 points for only the fourth time this season. Their point total was a season high.

• Heat G Gary Payton, who missed Saturday's 98-97 victory at Memphis with an ear infection, scored seven points against Los Angeles but was 0-for-5 in 3-point tries.

-- The Associated Press

Phoenix Rising In Pacific

The Suns streak to 127 points, beat Kings

Ming Bling
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
Yao Ming sends home two of his 27 points in a 118-90 win over Golden State, Houston's sixth win in its last seven games.

Extreme Behavior
Zach Randolph

Tuesday's Best
Blazers forward Zach Randolph: Rolling 31 points and 13 boards in the 88-85 win over the Pistons and his old teammate Rasheed Wallace. Randolph had a career-high 37 points in his last trip to the Palace.

troy murphy

Tuesday's Worst
Nets guard Eddie House: That bum knee isn't helping matters. Missed all four shots in nine minutes in loss to the Mavs. This isn't why the Nets brought him aboard.

Quotes of the Day
"This was a horrible loss for us. These are the kind of games that can haunt you late in the season."
-- Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, after losing to the Trail Blazers.

See how all 120 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres

Lakers Should Do This KG Deal
Kevin Garnett

Chris from MI: If you were the Lakers, would you give up Andrew Bynum in a trade for Kevin Garnett? I would rather the Lakers package Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, and another player instead. Would the Lakers even want to deal since they are "cooking" right now?

Marc Stein: This week's episode with Bynum and Phil Jackson seems like a timely reminder that Bynum isn't exactly established yet. I know I said last week that the Lakers would not part with Odom AND Bynum for in a KG deal, but should they? Yes. I'd say let Minnesota have anyone they want (not named Kobe) in a KG trade. I've always been an Odom fan, but the prospect of Kobe and KG together . . . anything it takes.

The full Marc Stein chat Insider

It's A Long Way To McAdoo
Elton Brand

Elton Brand had 33 points and 17 rebounds in the Clippers' 101-97 win over the Heat. It was Brand's eighth 30-point, 15-rebound game since joining the Clippers in 2001-02. The only players in franchise history (which dates back to the Buffalo Braves in 1970) with more 30/15 games are Bob McAdoo (68) and Elmore Smith (9).

More from Elias

Where Have You Gone?
Keith Van Horn

Keith Van Horn: Agent David Falk sent word that Van Horn is still declining interview requests. He is living outside of Denver and spending time with his family after earning $15.7 million for Dallas last season. Van Horn is another player who could be of interest to someone come playoff time.

Tony Delk: Spending his first season overseas with Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos. Averaging 12.2 points and shooting 42 percent on 3s.

The full Chris Sheridan story Insider


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