Phoenix sinks the Sixers, 107-93

March 28, 2008 7:41:52 PM PDT
Shaquille O'Neal has played with Phoenix long enough to know the Suns don't go on three-game losing streaks. Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points, Raja Bell had 20 and the Phoenix Suns avoided their first three-game losing skid of the season with a 107-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

The Suns lost consecutive road games at Detroit and Boston, yet had little problem thrashing the 76ers.

"We let two slip away and we knew this team (the 76ers) was a hot team, so thank God we got off to a fast start," O'Neal said.

O'Neal had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Leandro Barbosa scored 17 points and Steve Nash had 10 assists to help the Suns race to a 50-26 lead.

Andre Miller had 16 points and 10 assists, Lou Williams scored 15 points and Andre Iguodala had 13 for Philadelphia.

The Sixers snapped a three-game winning streak, fell to 11-3 in March and lost for only the second time in their last 14 home games.

Still, they did show some fight in the third, slicing a 24-point deficit all the way down to 10 on Rodney Carney's driving layup late in the quarter. The Sixers had some pretty fantastic comebacks and after a few minutes of inspired basketball, this one seemed almost poised to be the latest.

The Suns were simply too sharp from the floor and blew the game back open in the fourth. Stoudemire had a pair of rattling jams and Boris Diaw hit a 3 during an 11-2 run that pushed the lead back to 21 points.

The air was out of another packed crowd and the Sixers had no more runs left.

"We had a good enough focus and good enough energy and when we do that, we're tough to beat," Bell said.

The Sixers have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA because of their speedy transition game, easy baskets and a defense that ranked seventh in the league in fewest points allowed. All three of those parts vanished early and Philadelphia stumbled out to one its worst first quarters since turning its season around nearly two months ago.

The Sixers missed 13 straight shots to start the game and didn't make a field goal until Miller swished a jumper with 4:55 left in the first quarter.

"They were pretty crisp and we weren't as crisp," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Phoenix already led by double digits and buried the Sixers with 20 points in the paint in the first. O'Neal and Stoudemire had uncontested dunks - O'Neal sometimes humorously swatting Samuel Dalembert off him like a buzzing fly - and Bell was left open for some 3-pointers.

O'Neal said he's adjusted to the Suns looking for Stoudemire as their first option, and the Suns have been careful not to forget about O'Neal in the offense or go to him too much. O'Neal is fine with his new role.

"It's obvious I can't do the same things I could when I was 26 and I'm not going to try and be the first experimental case," O'Neal said. "This team was winning 50, 55 games without me. I don't want to come in and push my way, push my style on them and force us to possibly go down and really take the blame."

The Sixers gamely tried to rally and Carney sank a jumper with 4.8 seconds left in the half, as the crowd and the bench both went wild - for a moment. Nash raced back down and answered with a 17-footer with 0.2 seconds left and a 61-44 lead at the break.

"They came out making shots and pushing the ball down our throats," Cheeks said. "It's hard to come back against them. We tried our best, but couldn't knock them down."

Phoenix's 38 points in the first quarter were the most allowed by the 76ers in that quarter this season. The Sixers had allowed 34 points in the first quarter to the Lakers in January. ... The Sixers had won four straight at home. ... Phoenix ends a four-game road trip Saturday at Detroit.