Phoenix wins series 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

Phoenix wins series 4-2

Game 1: Monday, May 9th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 11th
Game 3: Friday, May 13th
Game 4: Sunday, May 15th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 18th
Game 6: Friday, May 20th

Mavericks 102

(58-24, 29-12 away)

Suns 127

(62-20, 31-10 home)

7:30 PM ET, May 9, 2005

US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 22 25 26 29102
PHX 29 34 36 28127

Top Performers

Dal: D. Nowitzki 28 Pts, 13 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

PHX: A. Stoudemire 40 Pts, 16 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Long layoff doesn't slow Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns had no trouble revving up the engines again. They're just too fast to gather rust.

With Amare Stoudemire powering for career playoff highs of 40 points and 16 rebounds, the Suns blew past the Dallas Mavericks 127-102 on Monday eight days after sweeping Memphis. The Suns came out rested and running for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Mavericks, who were coming off a 40-point victory over Houston in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday night.

"We're going to force the issue every time we come out until somebody stops us from doing it," Quentin Richardson said. "That's our game. We've been doing that all year long."

Joe Johnson had 25 points and Shawn Marion 23 points and 11 rebounds in a game the Suns never trailed.

Steve Nash, going against the team he left after six seasons when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refused to come close to the five-year, $65 million he got from the Suns, was presented the league's most valuable player trophy by NBA commissioner David Stern before the game, holding it high above his head for the cheering crowd.

Then Phoenix was off and running, scoring the first eight points, leading by as many as 18 in the second quarter and 26 at the end of three.

The Suns even played some defense, forcing 17 turnovers and converting them to 26 points.

"It's not great defense," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said, "but it's pretty good."

D'Antoni will receive the NBA coach of the year award on Tuesday, but he said such honors are just a sidebar to the real story of the Suns.

"Individual awards, somebody has to get them, because that's the way society is set up," he said. "But it is a team sport, and I'm telling you what, that's a pretty good team."

Dallas coach Avery Johnson wasn't around to watch the final quarter, drawing two quick technicals from referee Dan Crawford after complaining vehemently that Dirk Nowitzki wasn't fouled on a turnover. Dirk Nowitzki was fouled on a turnover. Johnson was tossed with 3:20 left in the third quarter and his team down 89-68.

Nash had 11 points and 13 assists and Quentin Richardson added 12 points as Phoenix improved to 5-0 in the playoffs.

Nowitzki scored 28 for Dallas. Jerry Stackhouse scored 14, Jason Terry, Michael Finley and Marquis Daniels 13 apiece.

"You're angry, you're disappointed," Nowitzki said. "They scored 130 points (actually 127) and they were laughing at us."

Johnson blamed himself for his team coming out so flat.

"This one's on me," he said.

"We came out here, I guess we thought it was a vacation. You know, it's about 88 degrees out there and it's sunny. I think we were more in the resort mood rather than a semifinals of a playoff type of mood. That will hopefully change come Game 2."

The Dallas coach decided not to double-team Stoudemire, with disastrous results. In the battle of starting centers, Stoudemire outscored Erick Dampier 40-0. Alan Henderson didn't fare any better. Neither did big Shawn Bradley.

"I guess they figured Dampier was a big enough center to hold me," Stoudemire said, "but I do what they let me do, just take what the defense gives me."

The remarkable 22-year-old was asked if it was the best game of his three-year NBA career.

"I don't know about my career, you know I've got a lot of big-time games," he said with a big smile, "but it's a big game in Game 1 of the conference semifinals."

D'Antoni put Stoudemire's performance near the top.

"Defensively and offensively, that's one of his best if not the best," the coach said. "He was awesome at both ends."

Stoudemire, easily driving past his slower defender, had 32 points and 11 rebounds with 8 minutes left in the third. He finished 13-for-21 from the field and 14-for-17 at the foul line.

Nowitzki said the Mavericks have to get a better game from Dampier to have any chance in the series.

"We've got to get something out of our center position," Nowitzki said. "He was always a step slow. He got in foul trouble and couldn't be aggressive. He's got to find a way to stay in the game."

Phoenix outscored Dallas 15-6 to start the second quarter to go up 44-28 on Nash's 3-pointer. The Suns were at their acrobatic best, with Johnson batting a pass volleyball-style to a streaking Stoudemire for a stuff, Nash tossing a behind-the-back pass to Stoudemire for a stuff, then firing a bullet pass crosscourt to Johnson for a 3-pointer.

Nash's 12-footer put Phoenix up 63-45 with 22.6 seconds left in the half. Stackhouse made two free throws to make it 63-47 at the break.

While falling on his back, Nash sank a 14-footer over Jason Terry to ignite a 9-0 spurt that gave Phoenix a 74-51. Stoudemire's acrobatic inside basket on a pass from Nash with 8:27 left in the third quarter ended that spurt.

A 3-pointer by Marion and two by Quentin Richardson made it 87-64 with 5 minutes left in the third, and Steven Hunter's slam from the baseline put Phoenix ahead 99-73 entering the final quarter.

Game notes

Richardson drew three offensive fouls, two from Josh Howard in the second quarter. ... Stoudemire scored 40 or more six times in the regular season. ... Counting the end of the regular season, the Suns have won 10 of 11, with the lone loss a meaningless regular-season finale at Sacramento. ... Nash left the game to chants of "M-V-P" with 4:35 to play.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 102 127
FGM-FGA 44-98 (.449) 46-88 (.523)
3PM-3PA 5-18 (.278) 12-22 (.545)
FTM-FTA 9-12 (.750) 23-28 (.821)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-46 10-43
Assists 18 25
Turnovers 17 12
Steals 4 10
Blocks 4 3
Fast Break Points 9 24
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (2/0) 18 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 27

Top Performers

Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 28
Reb: 13
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Amar'e Stoudemire Stoudemire
Points: 40
Reb: 16
Ast: 0
Stl: 1
Blk: 2