Saturday , May , 14 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Suns burn Mavs in Game 3

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Amare Stoudemire racked up 37 points and 14
rebounds while Steve Nash compiled 27 points and 17 assists to propel Phoenix
to a 119-102 victory over Dallas in Game 3 of their Western Conference
semifinal at AmericanAirlines Center.

Jim Jackson, who replaced the injured Joe Johnson in the starting lineup, had
17 points and eight rebounds to help the Suns take a 2-1 advantage in the
best-of-seven series, which resumes Sunday in Dallas.

“It was just a great team effort,” remarked Phoenix head coach Mike D’Antoni.

Johnson suffered a displaced fracture of his left orbital bone after being
fouled hard underneath the basket by Stackhouse in Wednesday’s 108-106 Dallas
win in Game 2. He is likely to miss Sunday’s game as well and his availability
for the rest of the series is unclear.

“We got one for Joe,” Nash said. “We all feel sick for what happened to him.”

Dirk Nowitzki amassed 21 points and 13 rebounds but was just 8-of-24 from the
field for the Mavericks, who shot just 39 percent and were a woeful 1-of-18
from three-point range. Jerry Stackhouse netted 20 points off the bench.

“We weren’t making shots,” said Dallas head coach Avery Johnson. “We’ll be
ready to play in Game 4.”

The Suns shot a sizzling 50 percent (11-of-22) from beyond the arc and broke
open a close game with a 15-0 run late in the fourth quarter.

Clinging to a 97-96 lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play, Nash made 1-of-2 free
throws and Shawn Marion and Jackson buried back-to-back three-pointers to
extend the margin to eight as the game neared the four-minute mark.

Jackson made it a double-digit game with a tip-in with 3:31 remaining and Nash
drove the lane and scored on consecutive possessions to give Phoenix a
commanding 108-96 advantage. Marion capped the deciding spurt with a steal and
dunk with 1:53 left.

“I thought the whole second half we had a really good rhythm,” Nash said. “We
were a little more confident and there was a little more urgency.”

Dallas trailed 87-79 with under a minute left in the third quarter but scored
nine of the next 10 points to draw even. Stackhouse started the run with a
three-pointer to close out the period and Jason Terry ended it with a pair of
baskets, including a short jumper with 9:40 left which tied the game at 88-88.

Phoenix regrouped and went ahead 95-90 when Nash fed Stoudemire for an easy
basket with just under eight minutes to go. However, Stackhouse hit a jumper
and Nowitzki made a driving layup to cut the Mavs’ deficit to one with six
minutes to play.

The Suns held a 60-59 halftime lead on the strength of 25 points by
Stoudemire, who made good on 8-of-11 field-goal attempts before the break.
Phoenix extended it with a string of seven straight points in the third
quarter. After a Nash layup Quentin Richardson buried a three-pointer and
Jackson made a short jumper at the 7:05 mark to put Phoenix up 72-63.

Three made free throws by Nowitzki, the first a technical, put Dallas up
38-31 three minutes into the second quarter, but Phoenix answered with an 8-0
run capped by Leandro Barbosa’s transition layup to forge ahead.

The Mavericks moved back in front moments later when Josh Howard sank two foul
shots and held a slim edge through most of the second quarter. Dallas led
57-54 heading into the final two minutes of the half before Stoudemire threw
down jams off Nash feeds on Phoenix’s next two possessions. Howard and
Stackhouse each hit 1-of-2 from the foul line to send Dallas up 59-58, but a
Barbosa layup with 15 seconds left staked the Suns to a one-point cushion at
intermission.

Dallas put together an 8-0 run spanning the closing seconds of the first
quarter and the beginning stages of the second to take its biggest lead of the
night at 35-27.

DAL PHO