Tuesday , Apr , 19 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Suns clinch NBA’s best record with win over Nuggets

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson finished with
26 points apiece and the Phoenix Suns pounded the Denver Nuggets, 128-114, at
America West Arena.

Before the game was even over the Suns clinched the top seed in the Western
Conference playoff race when San Antonio lost in Memphis. Phoenix also sealed
up the NBA’s best record and will have home-court advantage throughout the
playoffs as a result.

The Suns (62-19) have tied the franchise record for most wins in a season and
can break the mark with a win in Wednesday’s regular-season finale in
Sacramento.

Shawn Marion added 18 points and nine rebounds and Quentin Richardson notched
16 points for the Suns, who have won five straight and 11 of their last 13
games.

Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 36 points, but the Nuggets were still
dealt their second straight loss. Denver fell to 24-4 since the All-Star break
with three of those losses coming to the Suns.

Kenyon Martin added 22 points and 11 rebounds and Andre Miller chipped in 17
points and 11 assists for the Nuggets, who will be seeded seventh in the
playoffs and face the second-seeded Spurs. The Nuggets will wrap up their
regular season with Tuesday’s home contest against Portland.

This was never really a game and Denver’s only lead came when Martin threw
down a dunk for the first points of the game. The Suns responded with an 18-6
run and held a 44-25 cushion by the end of the first quarter. Johnson scored
18 points in the opening quarter for Phoenix.

The Suns continued their hot shooting in the second quarter and led by as many
as 25 points before halftime. The score stood at 75-57 at the intermission.

Johnson scored 21 points in the opening half for the Suns, who shot 60 percent
from the floor in the game’s first 24 minutes. Denver shot 41 percent in the
first half, but Anthony led all scorers with 27 points.

The second half was just a formality, as Phoenix coasted to the victory. The
Suns led 106-88 after three quarters and eased to the win in the fourth
quarter.

DEN PHO