Stoudemire leads Suns; assist to Nash
Still seething from an overtime defeat in Denver and a narrow home loss to Minnesota, Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire pegged yesterday's game in Toronto a must-win. And with the Raptors charging in the fourth quarter, Stoudemire took over.
Stoudemire scored 31 points, Steve Nash had a season-high 18 assists, and the Suns beat Toronto, 117-113, their ninth consecutive victory over the struggling Raptors.
"After a tough loss to Minnesota, it felt like this was a win we definitely needed," Stoudemire said.
Jason Richardson added 17 points, Shaquille O'Neal and Matt Barnes each had 16, and Leandro Barbosa scored 14 for Phoenix.
Stoudemire scored 11 points in the fourth as the Suns won the opener of a six-game road trip.
"We're a different team when he plays at that level," Suns coach Terry Porter said of Stoudemire. "It makes it very difficult for teams to match up with us with Shaq on the floor, and the other weapons we have, when he brings that type of energy and scoring power."
Nash sealed it for Phoenix on a driving layup with 12.9 seconds to play.
Anthony Parker led Toronto with 26, Joey Graham scored a career-high 22, and Chris Bosh had 20 points and 12 rebounds as Toronto lost its fifth straight.
Phoenix led, 99-89, after two Stoudemire free throws with 10:33 left, but Toronto roared back to tie it at 102 with a 13-3 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes, with Graham scoring on consecutive trips for the Raptors.
A Stoudemire dunk with 3:18 left made it 114-109, but a putback dunk by Jamario Moon and Parker's layup drew Toronto within a point.
Parker missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 37 seconds left and Nash answered with a layup to secure the win.
Heat 104, Thunder 94 - Dwyane Wade had 32 points and 10 assists to help Miami beat Oklahoma City and end an extended road trip on a positive note.
Wade went on a scoring flurry early and then came back in to stave off a fourth-quarter rally by the Thunder. Yakhouba Diawara scored 14 points after starting in place of the injured Shawn Marion, and Jamaal Magloire and Mario Chalmers each added 13 points for Miami. Udonis Haslem had 11 points and 15 rebounds.
The Heat finished 4-3 on their 12-day road trip and will host the Celtics Wednesday night in their first home game since Jan. 5.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 31 points, Jeff Green scored 22 and Russell Westbrook added 14 points and eight rebounds.