Amaré Stoudemire celebrated his return to the NBA All-Star game with perhaps his most dominant games since returning from microfracture surgery.
His 24-point, 23-rebound performance — the first 20-20 effort of his career — was impressive on his own, but his defense in the second half on San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (2-for-7) was a big factor in the Spurs’ 17-point, 25.6 percent shooting effort in the fourth quarter.
“He was able to contest Duncan’s shots and that kept us from running around as much as we usually do against them,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Technically, energy-wise, being able to focus on what he needs to do, Amaré’s a lot better defender than he was two years ago. That was a huge effort.”
While Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker combined for 72 of San Antonio’s 87 points, the rest of the Spurs missed 20-of-25 shots. Fabricio Oberto, who was 11-for-11 and scored 23 points against Phoenix on Nov. 8 (a 111-108 Spurs win), was scoreless in 14 minutes, as was Bruce Bowen (0-for-5 in 27 minutes), Robert Horry (12 minutes) and Beno Udrih (eight).
All that Jazz
After beating San Antonio Wednesday, Utah is now 5-2 against Dallas (1-1), San Antonio (2-1) and Phoenix (2-0) this year. But the Jazz have to go 4 to 6 weeks without All-Star Carlos Boozer (left knee) and need the enigmatic Andrei Kirilenko to step forward and improve on his 9.2-point effort so far this season.
“Boozer is a big piece, but (Mehmet) Okur is playing great and Deron Williams has been really good,” D’Antoni said. “You know it’s going to be physical, they’ve played the same way for 15 years (Jerry Sloan is in his 19th season) and it will be tough. They slow it down with their offense and we’ll have to supply the energy to make the game more to our liking.”
The Suns set another NBA record Thursday, becoming the first team to ever go the first 46 games of a season without a double-digit loss. The 1995-96 Bulls reached 45 games before the Suns beat them 106-96 in game No. 46. Phoenix’s biggest loss of the season came Monday in Minnesota, when they lost to Kevin Garnett and the T-Wolves by nine. …
Nash’s 11 assists against the Spurs gives him 10 straight games with at least 10 assists for the fourth time in his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last player other than Nash to go that long with a double-digit assist streak was Mark Jackson, who went 14 games in 1996-97. …
Stoudemire’s 23 rebounds Friday were the most by a Spurs opponent in 14 years. Elias reports the last player to have more boards against San Antonio was Dennis Rodman, who had 26 back in 1993-94.