The Phoenix Suns’ offense is starting to click - and it could be getting a big boost on Wednesday.
Stoudemire has missed the Suns’ last two games with pain in his right knee. He missed three weeks during the preseason after undergoing microscopic surgery on his right knee but started in Phoenix’s first two games, picking up 23 points and 11 rebounds in a season-opening win at Seattle but just seven points and one board in Friday’s defeat against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Stoudemire said Tuesday that he was hopeful he could play against the Hawks.
“No doubt. I feel better about playing (Wednesday) night,” he said. “I just don’t want to jump out there too soon.”
Stoudemire underwent two surgeries on his knees and played in just three games in 2005-06, but played in all 82 games last season, averaging a team-high 20.4 points and 9.6 rebounds.
Boris Diaw started in place of Stoudemire on Tuesday and had 15 points and 11 assists in a 115-83 win at Charlotte. The Suns (3-1) set a season high for points and scored 52 points in the paint without their star center.
Phoenix had been concerned about its up-tempo offense in its first three games, including the 119-98 loss to the Lakers. However, the Suns shot 50 percent, committed only 10 turnovers and led by as many as 34 points against the Bobcats.
“It was pretty good,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’re still not clicking all the way, but we definitely did some good things tonight.”
“We always play defense,” said Marion, who had 11 rebounds. “It just gets overshadowed because our offense is so exhilarating.”
Phoenix, which opened a four-game road trip against Southeast Division teams, has won 15 of its last 16 road games against Eastern Conference teams dating to last season. The Suns have also won five straight in Atlanta since a 104-89 defeat there on March 15, 2002.
The Suns and Hawks split two matchups last season, with each winning on the other’s court.
The Hawks (1-2) are returning home after a pair of road losses, including Tuesday’s 87-82 defeat in New Jersey. Atlanta got to within two points of the Nets with about five minutes left but couldn’t pull even, one night after losing 92-91 in Detroit.
“We were right there at the end of the game,” coach Mike Woodson said. “We had our chances, but we can’t keep putting ourselves in this position.”