7:00 PM ET, December 19, 2006
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
PHOENIX (AP) -- No. 15 in a row was a breeze for the Suns.
The Suns started the season 3-6 before going on their 15-game win streak. That's the longest run of success for a team that started the streak three games under .500.
"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."
The Suns took a 19-point halftime lead over Toronto and then extended their winning streak to 15 games with a 115-98 victory. Steve Nash had 13 assists in the first half, tying his career high for any half. The last NBA player with more assists in a half was Jason Kidd, who had 14 over the first two quarters for Phoenix on March 6, 2000, against Miami.
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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 12.
"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."
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||38-95 (.400)||42-82 (.512)|
|3PM-3PA||2-12 (.167)||6-15 (.400)|
|FTM-FTA||20-23 (.870)||25-30 (.833)|
|Fast Break Points||12||28|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||19 (0/0)||22 (0/0)|