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Marbury Returns to Phoenix But Suns Shine Bright

Phoenix 114, New York 106

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Amare Stoudemire had 32 points and 15 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 26 points and 14 assists, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 114-106 victory over the travel-weary New York Knicks on Saturday night.

The victory was the seventh in eight games for the Suns (38-11) and strengthened their lead in the NBA's Pacific Division. It also gave them their first season sweep over the Knicks since 1994-95. They beat the Knicks 133-118 in New York on Jan. 25.

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Shawn Marion contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the Suns improve to 8-0 against Atlantic Division teams. Reserve Jim Jackson added 11 points.

The Knicks (18-29), who have tumbled from first place to last in the Atlantic Division in the past month and are 2-7 since Herb Williams replaced Lenny Wilkens as coach, have lost 12 of their last 13. They also have lost nine straight road games.

Former Suns guard Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with 33 points. He was booed during the final 3 minutes after grabbing Nash as the Phoenix playmaker drove toward the basket.

Jamal Crawford had 15 points for the Knicks, and Kurt Thomas grabbed a season-high 21 rebounds.

The pesky Knicks stayed with the Suns for three periods. Then, Phoenix opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run. Stoudemire capped the burst with a fast-break slam dunk, giving Phoenix a 90-81 lead.

The tired Knicks, who lost 116-115 at Sacramento on Friday night, took a surprising 53-52 halftime lead by outscoring the Suns 10-2 in the final 3 minutes of the second period. Marbury capped the surge with a driving layup with 4 seconds left. He finished the half with 16 points.

New York also had a big rebounding edge, 29-20, with Thomas grabbing 11, helping the Knicks to an 11-0 advantage in second-chance points. They finished with a 17-4 advantage in that category, but the Suns led 26-9 in fast-break points.

The usually sharpshooting Suns' starters shot a paltry 15-for-40 (37 percent) and the team went to the foul line only six times, hitting all six, compared to the Knicks. who were 12-of-15.

The Knicks continued to pound the boards in the third quarter, and by the end of the period, they had a 45-30 rebounding margin and led 81-79. Thomas continued to dominate underneath, increasing his rebound total to 17. Meanwhile, Marbury kept up his offensive assault, producing eight more points.

Notes: It was '80s night at America West Arena, with spectators encouraged to dress in attire from that era. Adding to the promotion, Suns players and coaches from that period were in attendance, including Tom Chambers, Eddie Johnson, Dan Majerle, Alvan Adams, Dick Van Arsdale, Al Bianchi, Mark West and John MacLeod. ... Thomas had nine rebounds in the first quarter, as many as the entire Suns team. ... Nash is the only player in the league averaging double figures (11.1) in assists. ... The Knicks are 6-14 in games decided by six points or less. Last season, they finished 19-13 in that statistic. ... The Suns are on pace to break their franchise record for 3-pointers 460 through 49 games. The franchise high is 584, set in the 1994-95 season.

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