Phoenix (13-3) at Portland (8-7)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Portland, OR
Temp: 62° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Sun Dec 5, 2004
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The Phoenix Suns are enjoying their early season success so much they called their first loss in nearly three weeks a “learning experience.”

After having its season-high nine-game winning streak snapped, Pacific Division-leading Phoenix will look to continue its stellar play when it visits the Rose Garden to take on the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Suns owned the best record in the NBA entering Friday night’s home showdown with Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Garnett, the reigning league MVP, had 23 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists as last season’s Western Conference finalists pulled out a tough 97-93 win, handing Phoenix its first loss since a 113-111 setback to Sacramento on Nov. 13.

Amare Stoudemire scored 28 points, Shawn Marion had 21 and 18 rebounds and Steve Nash added 22 points, but the Suns shot a dismal 2-for-18 from 3-point range.

Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said he felt it was his team’s tightness more than Minnesota’s defense that caused the shooting woes.

“I just thought we were kind of tentative,” he said. “We knew this was a big game for us and I just don’t think we stepped up the way we should.”

Both D’Antoni and Stoudemire said the loss was one to learn from.

“It’s good that we experienced this early in the season, so that when we get another tough game like this we’ll be prepared for it,” Stoudemire said.

Phoenix is 3-1 when its scores less than 100 points.

The Blazers had won four of five before Saturday’s 99-89 loss to Northwest Division-leading Seattle.

Zach Randolph scored 16 points to lead six Portland players in double figures, and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who were held below 90 points for the fourth time in five games.

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