|Steve Nash: Played in his 1,000th game on Sunday.|
The Phoenix Suns are 2-2 on their seven-game homestand, and now find themselves with the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs after splitting a pair of weekend games.
After six days, the Suns jumped out to a seven-point first-quarter lead against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, only to let the cream of the NBA crop come back for a 102-96 win. And then on Sunday, Amar'e Stoudemire went off, with a 36-point, 12-rebound performance against the New Orleans Hornets. The Suns walked with a 120-106 victory in that game.
Stoudemire now has at least 30 points in four of his past five games. And against the Lakers, he dropped 29 points. That's in addition to his 16 rebounds.
He told reporters after the Hornets game, "I'm back in great shape and feel phenomenal. My explosiveness is back, my quickness is back, my IQ of the game -- everything is back at 100 percent, so I feel great."
With 15 games to go and in a dogfight in the Western Conference standings, the Suns will need all 100 percent of Stoudemire. Thankfully, he appears to be showing up for every game the Suns play, unlike during the doldrums of winter, when Stoudemire would pull down three (or fewer) rebounds a game. He's also been the team's leading scorer in nine of the Suns' past 13 games.
The team's other superstar, Steve Nash, scored 13 points on Sunday and had a very Nash-like 12 assists. The game against the Hornets was Nash's 1,000th game played. Now in his 14th season (one of his best, by the way), he became only the 10th active player to appear in as many games.
Nash scored 14 points and had eight assists against the Lakers but never even made it to the free-throw line. Also in that game, after jumping out to that nice lead, they let the Lakers walk all over them in the second period. In the second half, the Suns rallied from 15 points down (and even had the lead for a very brief time), but the Lakers were too much for them in the final minutes.
The Suns have three more consecutive home games, including Tuesday night's contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the NBA's worst teams. The Suns play the Wolves again on March 28. Tipoff: 7 p.m. Tuesday. TV: My45 (channel 9). Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.suns.com