Stoudemire, the Suns' All-Star center, was sidelined because of soreness in his right knee. He had arthroscopic surgery on the knee Oct. 2. Coach Mike D'Antoni said Stoudemire was day to day.
Despite Stoudemire's absence, the resilient Suns were able to overcome the Cavs and LeBron James.
"I feel like the first three games, we haven't had good rhythm, we haven't had cohesion," Nash said. "Tonight we scrapped a little tougher in the second half. We have to work together and find the rhythm that we've been successful with."
Shawn Marion had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns. Leandro Barbosa scored 14 points, and Boris Diaw, who started in place of Stoudemire scored 16. Nash had 22 points in the second half.
"We got more lively in the second half," Marion said. "We got out of the sand dune.
"We're playing good defense, but we can play better defense. The perception is we don't play defense, but we do."
James led Cleveland with 27 points, 21 the second half, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden each scored 22. Gooden had 14 rebounds and Ilgauskas 13.
Mike D'Antoni, who became the fastest Phoenix coach to 200 victories, wasn't ecstatic with the win, but he was satisfied.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was effective," he said. "We're not there yet, but we'll get there. In the second half, we scored 65 points and still didn't shoot very well, so that's encouraging."
The 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas, who was being guarded by the 6-8 Diaw or 6-9 Brian Skinner, dominated the first half, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds en route to the 150th double-double of his career.
Gooden, also enjoying a two-inch height advantage over Grant Hill, chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Cavaliers to a 45-38 halftime advantage. At one point, the Cavaliers led 39-27.
While Ilgauskas and Gooden were manhandling the short-handed and ailing Suns, James didn't join in the fun much. Coming off a 45-point effort against the New York Knicks on Friday night, he was held to six points on 3-of-12 shooting in the half.
Marion was the only bright spot for the Suns, scoring 13 points, including Phoenix's only two 3-pointers.
The rejuvenated Suns picked up the pace in the third period and took a 69-64 lead into the fourth quarter. Nash ignited the comeback with a 3-pointer and finished with 10 points in the period. Phoenix went ahead for good 55-53 on a turnaround bank shot by Diaw.
James also got rolling in the quarter, scoring 11 points, including a tomahawk dunk, but didn't get much help from his teammates and the Cavaliers were outscored 31-19. Nash made sure the Suns didn't lose the lead in the fourth period, scoring 12 points.
The Cavaliers had 22 turnovers, leading to 21 Phoenix points, and that dismayed James.
"We had a few careless mistakes ..." he said. "We had some unforced ones that were uncharacteristic of us."
Cleveland coach Mike Brown also was unhappy with his team's play.
"For some reason, we did not drive the ball," Brown said. "We swung it, swung it, swung it and then settled for a jump shot. If we play that way, we'll get beat in a lot of games."
Jerry Colangelo, the founder of the Suns, was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor during halftime. ... This was the start of a six-game Western road trip for the Cavaliers. ... The Suns now will go on a four-game Eastern road swing. ... Sasha Pavlovic suited up for the first time this season for Cleveland, after ending his contract holdout. ... Anderson Varejao still has not played for the Cavs because of a contract dispute. ... Cleveland also was missing two other key reserves, both with injuries -- Donyell Marshall (sprained right wrist) and Eric Snow (sprained left knee). ... The victory was the Suns' ninth straight at home against Cleveland.