PHOENIX - Rusty and out of sync. That was the potentially hazardous condition facing the Suns after a full week's layoff, longest in club history. And sure enough they were. For one full minute.
And then the rout — a 127-102 blitz of the Dallas Mavericks Monday night— was on.
How one-sided was this opening game of Round 2 at America West Arena?
- The Suns, scoreless for that first minute, took an 8-0 lead after two minutes and never trailed.
- They reached the 100-point mark with 11:12 left in the game.
- Amaré Stoudemire had 32 points and 11 rebounds with 8:00 left in the third quarter.
Stoudemire finished with 40 points and 16 rebounds (both career playoff highs) as the players guarding him, notably Erick Dampier, looked like mechanical men in comparison.
"Defensively and offensively, this was one of the best, if not the best game" Stoudemire has ever played, Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Stoudemire, asked if he was surprised he wasn't double-covered, said, "Not really. I guess they figured Dampier was a big enough center to hold me."
But for the next game, he predicted, "I think they'll probably double- or triple-team me and let the guards shoot."
The Mavericks, perhaps worn out by their grueling Round 1 series with the Houston Rockets, might have been blown out no matter what the strategy.
"We didn't play with the energy and emotion I know we can play with," said Avery Johnson, the Mavericks’ disappointed coach.
As for the Suns, "They played an extraordinary game. We didn't have an answer for anything they did."
Johnson, who blamed himself for the Mavs' showing, said, "Now we know what we're up against. I guarantee you we'll have a better effort (in Game 2)."
The win was the Suns' fifth straight in playoffs, matching the longest streak for a Suns team, set three other times (most recently in the 1995 playoffs).
Counting the regular season, the Suns have won 10 of their last 11; the only loss was the meaningless season closer at Sacramento.
Steve Nash, after a rousing MVP presentation headed by commissioner David Stern, had a game that reflected his season. He had modest stats (11 points, 13 assists and six rebounds) but directed an offense that shot 52 percent.
"That's why he's got the big trophy," D'Antoni said. "He's got a big job."
The Suns put the finishing touches on this blowout with a 9-2 spurt late in the third quarter.
Shawn Marion (23 points, 10 rebounds) hit a 3-pointer, and after Jerry Stackhouse hit a jumper, Quentin Richardson nailed a 3-pointer.
Richardson then drew a charge on Stackhouse and, a possession later, hit another 3-pointer to make it 87-64 Suns.
Moments later, Johnson took the rest of the night off by drawing two technical fouls protesting a non-call on a drive to the hoop by Dirk Nowitzki (he also slipped on the floor as he charged onto the court).
The Mavs chopped the lead to 105-88 before the Suns got serious again. Led by Joe Johnson (25 points, tying his career playoff high) and Marion, they shoved the lead quickly back up to 115-90.
Unsung heroes included Richardson, who drew three charges, and reserves Walter McCarty and Steven Hunter, who were effective in a three-minute stretch in the first half when the Suns were pounding the Mavericks.
Game 2 is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Phoenix, then the series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.
BONUS SHOTS: This is first postseason meeting between the teams; the Mavs are the longest-standing Western team the Suns hadn't ever played. The only others left: Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans (the Hornets joined the West this season). . .
Stoudemire had six 40-plus point games in the regular season, including one 50-point game. . . . This is the 10th time a Suns player has scored 40 in a playoff game (accomplished by five players, the last being Rex Chapman in 1997 vs. Seattle). . . .Fans included Hall of Fame player Bill Russell and Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson.