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Stoudemire's 42 get Suns on track

PHOENIX — Amare Stoudemire answered his critics with an exclamation point, and now there will be no sweep in the Western Conference final.

Stoudemire matched his career playoff high with 42 points, 29 in the second half, and grabbed 11 rebounds to power the Suns to a 118-109 victory Sunday that cut the Lakers' lead in the series to 2-1.

"Just being aggressive, really going after it," Stoudemire said. "I wanted to come out with some aggressiveness and get it going."

The Suns can pull even Tuesday with a win at home in Game 4.

Phoenix, dominated inside in the first two games, won with its big men and a big advantage at the free-throw line.

Robin Lopez, whose 7-foot presence gave the Suns some much-needed toughness inside, scored 20 on 8-for-10 shooting in 31 minutes, by far his most playing time since returning from a back injury at the start of the series. Phoenix made 37 of 42 free throws, 14 of 18 by Stoudemire. The Lakers were 16-for-20 at the line.

Kobe Bryant had 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Lakers, and Pau Gasol added 23 points, but they didn't get as much help from the supporting cast as in the first two games.

The Suns, the second-best 3-point shooting team in NBA history in the regular season, were just 5-for-20. But Jason Richardson was 4-for-7, including one with 26 seconds left to end the Lakers' eight-game playoff winning streak. Richardson scored 19. Steve Nash had 17 points and 15 assists.

"We certainly didn't come out to play the way I wanted," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, "and we certainly didn't play the way I wanted at the end."

Stoudemire, who had just nine rebounds in the first two games and was criticized for his lack of defense and absence of fire, scored repeatedly on drives to the basket. The All-Star forward made 10 of 12 shots in the second half, scoring 16 in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth.

"My dedication to the game should never be questioned," he said. "… I came out tonight with a chip on my shoulder, and it was a must-win for us."

The Suns played a lot of zone defense after the Lakers averaged 126 points and shot 58 percent in the first two games. Los Angeles shot 48 percent Sunday and was outscored 18-3 on fastbreak points.

Suns 29 25 32 32 118
Lakers 32 15 37 25 109
Lakers lead series 2-1

L.A. LAKERS (109): Artest 4-13 2-2 12, Gasol 11-14 1-2 23, Bynum 1-1 0-1 2, Fisher 6-11 3-3 18, Bryant 13-24 8-8 36, Odom 4-14 2-4 10, Brown 2-7 0-0 5, Farmar 1-3 0-0 3, Powell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-87 16-20 109.

PHOENIX (118): Hill 1-4 2-2 5, Stoudemire 14-22 14-18 42, Lopez 8-10 4-4 20, Nash 5-10 7-7 17, Richardson 7-15 1-1 19, Frye 0-7 1-1 1, Dudley 1-4 2-2 4, Barbosa 0-4 2-2 2, Amundson 1-2 0-0 2, Dragic 1-4 4-5 6. Totals 38-82 37-42 118.

3-Point GoalsLakers 9-32 (Fisher 3-6, Artest 2-7, Bryant 2-8, Farmar 1-2, Brown 1-5, Odom 0-4), Phoenix 5-20 (Richardson 4-7, Hill 1-1, Nash 0-1, Dragic 0-2, Barbosa 0-2, Dudley 0-2, Frye 0-5). Fouled OutOdom. ReboundsLakers 54 (Bryant, Gasol 9), Phoenix 44 (Stoudemire 11). AssistsLakers 20 (Bryant 11), Phoenix 19 (Nash 15). Total FoulsLakers 28, Phoenix 21. TechnicalsFisher, Lakers Coach Jackson, Lakers defensive three second, Lopez. A18,422.

Suns 118

Lakers 109

EAST final


Game 1: Celtics 92, Magic 88

Game 2: Celtics 95, Magic 92

Game 3: Celtics 94, Magic 71

Tonight: at Boston, 8:30, ESPN

Wednesday: at Orlando, 8:30, ESPN *

Friday: at Boston, 8:30, ESPN *

May 30: at Orlando, 8:30, ESPN *

West final


Game 1: Lakers 128, Suns 107

Game 2: Lakers 124, Suns 112

Sunday: Suns 118,

Lakers 109

Tuesday: at Phoenix, 9, TNT

Thursday: at Los Angeles, 9, TNT

Saturday: at Phoenix, 8:30, TNT *

May 31: at L.A., 9, TNT *

* If necessary

Up next

East: Magic at Celtics, 8:30 tonight, ESPN

Celtics lead series 3-0

West: Lakers at Suns, 9 p.m. Tuesday, TNT

Lakers lead series 2-1

Stoudemire's 42 get Suns on track 05/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 12:16am]
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