Suns Outlast Mavs in Double OT Thriller

Thursday, March 15th 2007, 8:04 am
By: News On 6

Forget March Madness. Phoenix and Dallas played a game that belonged in late May. Steve Nash played like an MVP down the stretch and Amare Stoudemire had 41 points and 10 rebounds, carrying the Suns to a 129-127 double-overtime victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday night in a tense, thrilling game between the NBA's top teams.

``That was a playoff atmosphere,'' Stoudemire said. ``Both teams played with high intensity. Both teams were in it until the end.''

And when it was over, it was obvious the Western Conference and MVP races were still too close to call.

Nash, the two-time reigning MVP, scored 10 points in the final minute of regulation, capped by a tying 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left. He finished with 32 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds, outplaying fellow MVP favorite Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch.

That helped Phoenix pull within 2 1/2 games of Dallas for the league's best record. The Suns won their sixth straight and 11th in 12 games while snapping the Mavs' 23-game home winning streak.

Dallas has dropped two in a row overall after its 17-game winning streak. The teams meet again April 1 in Phoenix, with the Mavs leading the season series 2-1. They are the only NBA teams to have clinched playoff spots.

``This was a big game. We aren't going to try to downplay it,'' Dallas reserve Jerry Stackhouse said. ``It was a little disappointing not to get the win, but we'll bounce back.''

In other games, it was: Orlando 101, Utah 90; Toronto 104, New York 94; Chicago 88, Philadelphia 87; Washington 112, Indiana 96; Charlotte 111, Sacramento 108; Boston 109, Atlanta 88; Cleveland 118, Memphis 96; Houston 109, the Los Angeles Clippers 105; and Detroit 87, Portland 75.

Stackhouse scored 33 points, his most in three seasons with Dallas, and Nowitzki added 30 points, 16 rebounds and six assists. He had eight points and seven rebounds in the third quarter, when the Mavs turned what had been a 16-point deficit into a 15-point lead going into the fourth period.

But Nowitzki missed two free throws late in regulation to set up Nash's big finish in the final quarter.

Even with Nash and Nowitzki, the best player on the floor may have been Stoudemire. He was injured last year when Dallas beat Phoenix in the West finals, but a rematch could be a much different story if he's healthy and plays the way he did Wednesday, when he shot 16-for-19 from the field.

``He was unstoppable,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``He had a little sore back, a little muscle cramp or something in the first half. ... But, man, did he rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter.''

Wizards 112, Pacers 96

At Indianapolis, Gilbert Arenas scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half as Washington extended Indiana's losing streak to 11 games.

Antawn Jamison added 27 points and eight rebounds for the Wizards, who had lost their previous three games by a combined six points. The only negative for Washington was forward Caron Butler leaving early in the second quarter with stiffness in his left knee; he did not return.

Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal started after sitting out three games with a sprained left knee. He had 24 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes.

Cavaliers 118, Grizzlies 96

At Memphis, LeBron James recovered from a back injury to score 29 points, helping Cleveland win its season-high seventh straight.

Memphis, with the league's worst record, lost its second straight and eighth in the past nine.

Rockets 109, Clippers 105

At Houston, Luther Head hit a 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left and Yao Ming deflected a pass and created a game-sealing steal to help Houston hold on.

Elton Brand scored a season-high 37 points for the Clippers. Tracy McGrady led the Rockets with 21.

Pistons 87, Trail Blazers 75

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and Detroit to improved to 4-0 on a five-game road trip that ends at Phoenix on Friday.

Zach Randolph had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost six of their past eight games.

Bulls 88, 76ers 87

At Philadelphia, Kirk Hinrich made the go-ahead jumper with 26.7 seconds left and Luol Deng scored 20 points to lead Chicago to its fourth straight victory. The 76ers lost their second straight.

Raptors 104, Knicks 94

At Toronto, Chris Bosh scored 22 points, T.J. Ford matched a career high with 18 assists, and Toronto strengthened its hold on the Atlantic Division lead.

Jorge Garbajosa had a career-high 20 points, while fellow rookie Andrea Bargnani added 18 for Toronto (36-29). Ford also scored 18 points for the Raptors, including an 8-for-8 showing at the free throw line.

Magic 101, Jazz 90

At Orlando, Dwight Howard had 31 points and 15 rebounds, and Orlando ended a three-game losing streak.

Carlos Boozer scored 29 points and Mehmet Okur had 21 points and 12 rebounds, but Utah lost for the second night in a row in Florida.

Bobcats 111, Kings 108

At Charlotte, Sean May had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds left.

Kevin Martin scored 26 points for the Kings, but failed to hit the rim on a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer as Sacramento lost its fourth straight.

Celtics 109, Hawks 88

Al Jefferson had 23 points to lift Boston to its fifth victory in its past seven home games.

Atlanta lost its first game without leading scorer Joe Johnson after winning four straight. The Hawks have also dropped seven straight on the road.