Amaré Stoudemire scored 50 points in one game, hauled down 23 rebounds another night, and blocked 10 shots in another.
But for Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni’s money, Stoudemire’s 36 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four blocks — and just two fouls — over 40 minutes of Thursday’s 123-115 win over Golden State might top them all.
With Shaquille O’Neal limited to 14 minutes by foul trouble and the Suns trying to match the quickness of the Warriors, Stoudemire made 13 of 21 shots from the floor, controlled the middle on both ends, started Phoenix’s transition game with his rebounding and had three of his five dunks in the final three minutes to close out the game.
“I told Amaré that he’s had a lot of great games so it’s hard to single out one, but I don’t think he’s ever played any better,” D’Antoni said.
“Defensively, offensively, making the right read off the offense, energy, everything. He was terrific.”
Often the biggest man on the floor against Golden State, Stoudemire admitted he had a ball.
“It allowed me to just roam and play basketball,” he said.
“I could see how the plays were developing and where I needed to be.
“I was able to do what I wanted. We had a great energy about us last night, the way we need to bring it.”
A day after falling and spraining his right wrist against the Warriors, Grant Hill wasn’t able to shoot or take part in Friday’s light practice and said he was unsure if he could play tonight.
“We’ll see. If it feels better, I’ll go but if it’s doesn’t it might be rough,” said Hill, who felt he was low-bridged by Golden State’s Monta Ellis on the play, and his protest earned a technical foul.
“It swelled up and I can’t move it side-to-side too much. I was doing my Dennis Rodman impression last night, grabbing rebounds (11) and passing up shots.”
When pressed for more information on the injury, Hill joked, saying, “I don’t know about wrists, I’m a foot and ankle guy.”
Just two games behind the Pacific Division and Western Conference-leading Lakers, the Suns start a run of games against three West lottery teams — the Kings, Blazers (Tuesday) and Sonics (Wednesday) — while Los Angeles began a three-game road trip Friday against three West playoff teams by losing to New Orleans; they next play at Houston (Sunday) and at Dallas (Tuesday). …
Steve Nash continues to find new and inventive ways to use TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager’s colorful suit pocket squares. After using one to unclog his nose during the All-Star game last month, Nash used one to mop the brow of Stoudemire during his postgame interview Thursday.
“You know, I’m starting to run out of those,” said Sager, who’s known for his outlandish outfits.
“That just shows Steve’s charisma,” Stoudemire said. “He’s a great player and a great teammate.” …
The Suns picked up four technical fouls Thursday (D’Antoni, Hill, Nash and O’Neal), marking the first time in more than three years that has happened.
In a Feb. 27, 2005, overtime loss to Boston, D’Antoni, Stoudemire, Quentin Richardson and Joe Johnson were all hit with technicals.