The Phoenix Suns didn’t look like the team that finished the 2003-04 campaign with the Western Conference’s second-worst record in their season opener.
Those two players joined a starting lineup that features young talent in Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson. On Wednesday, the five players combined for 66 points as the Suns beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-82 at America West Arena.
Stoudemire had 23 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Johnson scored 17, Nash had 12 and Marion added 10 points and nine boards. All four sat out the final quarter.
“It was pretty easy,” Stoudemire said. “Atlanta’s not the best team we’re going to play against. But we’re going to get points. We’re going to score the ball.”
Both Nash and Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni downplayed the significance of the blowout, which followed a 7-1 preseason. The Suns play their next four on the road.
“We’re a young team. We’re a long way from being a finished product,” Nash said. “We’ve got to build a team, and this road trip will be a part of that. We’ve got to learn together, especially on the road, so it’s an early test for us.”
D’Antoni liked the energy his team showed, but knows it’s just the first of 82 games.
“I don’t think we’ve really had a test yet,” D’Antoni said. “Preseason is preseason, and tonight we beat a young team that’s just getting together. We’ve got four games on the road, and that’s going to set a little bit of a tone.”
Philadelphia played its first game under coach Jim O’Brien on Wednesday, beating the Celtics 98-95 to make a winner of O’Brien in his return to Boston, where he coached from 2001 until he resigned during the middle of last season.
Iverson, playing the point under O’Brien, scored five of his 30 points in an 11-0 fourth quarter run when Philadelphia took the lead. The Sixers, who had trailed by 16 in the third, held on while Boston missed three 3-point attempts in the final minute.
“The most important things it that we had a sense of urgency, we knew that if we didn’t buckle down and try to make things happen, make the defense collectively as a group, then we didn’t have a chance to win it,” Iverson said.
“I wanted (O’Brien) to come in here and get a win, and I wanted him to feel good about our team and in the end feel good about our effort because we could have thrown that game away.”
Phoenix is 18-6 against Philadelphia since March 1992.