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SUNS 127, SONICS 102

Suns trample Dallas

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns are just too fast to gather any rust.

With Amare Stoudemire powering for career playoff highs of 40 points and 16 rebounds, the Suns blew past the Dallas Mavericks, 127-102, last night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Phoenix had not played in eight days after sweeping Memphis, but the Suns came out rested and running against the Mavericks, who were coming off a 40-point victory over Houston in Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday night.

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 8 points, leading by as many as 18 in the second quarter and 26 at the end of three.

Dallas coach Avery Johnson wasn't around to watch the final quarter. He drew two quick technical fouls from referee Dan Crawford while complaining that 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.

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.

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.

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.

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