Thursday , Apr , 28 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Offensive-minded Suns can win in playoffs

=== Offensive-minded Suns can win in playoffs ===

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – Phoenix grabbed a 2-0 lead in its Western Conference
quarterfinals series with the Memphis Grizzlies, as Amare Stoudemire collected
a double-double with 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Suns to a 108-103
victory at America West Arena in Game 2 of the best-of-seven set.

Phoenix head coach Mike D’Antoni was impressed with Stoudemire’s performance
in Game 2.

“He is a gamer,” said D’Antoni after Phoenix took a 2-0 lead against the
Grizzlies. “He had 34 points and 10 rebounds. I took him out right at the end
and he really did not want to come out. The last defensive play I wanted a lot
of small guys in there. At 22 years of age he just shows remarkable play. He
had a heck of a game.”

With the victory, the Suns took their first 2-0 series lead since the 1995
playoffs when they eventually fell in seven games to the Houston Rockets in
the conference semifinals. Only seven teams have ever come back from a 2-0
deficit in a best-of-seven series.

“I’m tired of talking about this,” said Marion. “Everyone is saying we can’t
run, we can’t play defense. We’re up 2-0 now, keep talking. Just leave it
alone, talk about something else now. We up 2-0 now and we’re showing what we
can do now. We’re going to keep going out there and keep playing hard.

“We have all kinds of weapons on this team now. We have five people out there
that can get 30 on any night. We have people that can come off the bench and
get 30. You have to respect that and value that. We have all kinds of weapons
out there, so what they take away, we have other weapons out there.”

MVP candidate Steve Nash, who led the league is assists during the regular
season, contributed 12 points and a game-high 15 helpers in Game 2s win for
Phoenix, while forward Shawn Marion finished with 22 points and 13 boards.
The Suns other two starters, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson also had solid
performance, as Johnson scored 20 and grabbed eight rebounds and Richardson
netted 15.

Phoenix, which defeated the Grizzlies, 114-103, in the opener, has scored 100
or more points in consecutive playoff games for the first time since the first
round of the 1997 playoffs against Seattle. The Suns lead a playoff series 2-0
for the first time since falling

“We know our style of play, but at the same time it’s the playoffs, we have to
win out,” said Richardson. “We are going to play the hand that they give us.
If they try to stop us from the outside then obviously Stat (Stoudemire) is
going to do his thing and you saw what happened last game when they tried to
take him away.

“You have to win at home. You have to protect your home and now we have to go
down there and pull them out there.”

All-Stars Marion, Nash and Stoudemire need to keep it up for the Suns to
eliminate the Grizzlies. Marion leads the club in scoring (24.0 ppg) and
rebounding (13.0 rpg) against Memphis, while Nash has dished out a team-best
14 helpers per game. Stoudemire has contributed 21.5 points and 10.5 boards
per contest.

Richardson and Johnson have also come up big against the Grizzlies. Richardson
is averaging 18.5 points and five rebounds, while Johnson has netted 18 and
pulled down 7.5 boards per game.

The Suns offensive machine is in full working motion. Even though the
Grizzlies are not a great team, they are still a solid squad that provides a
tough test in a new stage for Phoenix.

Phoenix is out to prove to all the so-called experts that its style of play
can win in the postseason. So far, so good