Tuesday , Mar , 13 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Barbosa paces Suns past Rockets

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Leandro Barbosa scored 32 points to lead the
playoff-bound Phoenix Suns to a 103-82 win over the Houston Rockets at U.S.
Airways Center.

Boris Diaw added 15 points and Shawn Marion tallied 14 points with 15 rebounds
for the Suns, who clinched a Western Conference playoff spot on Sunday without
even taking the floor.

Amare Stoudemire had only 12 points and Steve Nash registered just 10 points
and eight assists for Phoenix, which lowered its magic number for clinching
its third straight Pacific Division title to three games.

The Suns have also won five straight games overall, completing their second
straight five-game homestand sweep this season.

Tracy McGrady scored 19 points and Juwan Howard had 14 points for the Rockets,
who had a three-game win streak halted. Yao Ming had only 10 points and eight
boards for Houston, which trailed for most of the contest and was put away by
the high-powered Suns during the fourth quarter.

The Suns went in front in the first quarter. With the game tied at 14-14, they
went on a 12-2 run to take a double-digit lead. Stoudemire scored the
final four points of the surge, capping it with a bucket just under two
minutes to play to give the Suns a 26-26 lead.

Phoenix continued to lead by 10 points, 30-20, after the first 12 minutes of
action and led by as many 13 points in the second quarter. Marion’s basket
with just under three minutes to play until halftime ended an 8-0 surge,
giving Phoenix a 50-37 cushion.

Houston went into the break down 52-42 and stayed within striking distance
throughout the third. The Rockets drew within 68-63 following a pair of
McGrady free throws with just over 2 1/2 minutes left until the fourth.

Earlier in the quarter, Phoenix head coach Mike D’Antoni was ejected for
arguing with officials.

Phoenix, though. went into the final 12 minutes with a 74-66 lead and quickly
took control. Ahead 78-71, the Suns went on a 17-4 run to blow open the game.
Barbosa started the run with a trey and Nash ended it with a bucket with a
little more than three minutes left for the first 20-point lead of the
contest, 95-75.

Game Notes

D’Antoni was last ejected from a game on February 27, 2005 versus Boston in a
120-113 loss…Howard shot 5-for-5 from the field in Sunday’s game and went a
perfect 7-for-7 in this contest…The Suns have won six straight in this
series, taking all three games so far this season…Houston last won in
Phoenix on April 9, 2005.