Phoenix 109, Sacramento 84

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PHOENIX (TICKER) Stephon Marbury’s big second quarter and Shawn Marion’s sensational third were too much for the Sacramento Kings to handle.

Marbury scored 11 of his 26 points in the second period and Marion 18 of his 27 in the third as the Phoenix Suns cruised past the Kings, 109-84.

It was the biggest loss of the season for the Pacific Division-leading Kings, who missed an opportunity to move within 2 1/2 games of Dallas for the top record in the Western Conference. The Mavericks lost at Seattle.

“We just played awful,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “That’s all I have to say. We didn’t have any energy or urgency to play. If we play like that, we’re going to have a hard time down the stretch.”

Marbury’s second-quarter production turned a 20-19 edge into a 45-29 lead with 2:41 left before Sacramento climbed within 49-42 at the break.

Marion nailed three 3-pointers in the third period and Marbury closed the quarter with a rare four-point play to make it 80-67. The Kings got no closer in the final 12 minutes.

“We got it going,” Marion said. “We had it going, and we stuck with it and we just opened up everything. It got everybody going. Everybody was involved. We were just doing what we wanted to do out on the court.”

“Tonight, this was the Shawn we’re used to seeing,” Suns coach Frank Johnson said. “He was very efficient, taking shots and making passes.”

Joe Johnson and reserve Jake Voskuhl added 13 points apiece for Phoenix, which had lost nine of its first 13 games after the All-Star break.

“Shawn did a great job tonight,” Voskuhl said. “When a guy gets hot, and then the team gets him the ball, that’s what happens. He did a great job.”

With the win - their biggest of the season - the Suns (34-30) moved one-half game ahead of idle Houston for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth.

“We needed it,” Marbury said. “Against the good teams, we know we’ve got to play. We have to take the same approach when we go down to Houston (on Sunday).”

Chris Webber collected 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists and Mike Bibby added 20 points for the Kings, who shot just 37 percent (33-of-90) from the field and allowed the Suns to connect on 49 percent (38-of-77).

“I think you have to look in the mirror,” Webber said. “I think they played well but I kind of question our effort tonight. We need to make sure that we come back and prove that we are the team we think we are.”

Sacramento, which had won nine of 10 overall and eight of 11 over Phoenix, was missing starting center Vlade Divac, who is day-to-day with bronchitis.

“I’m really disappointed with the way we came out and played,” Adelman said. “You can’t rely on your shooting every game. Maybe because we’ve been playing at home and winning games, we think it’s going to be easy.”

Kings All-Star forward Peja Stojakovic scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting and key reserve Bobby Jackson had only nine on 3-of-13 from the floor.

“I ain’t never seen Peja just have four, I ain’t never seen Bobby go 3-for-whatever,” said Keon Clark, who had 13 points starting in place of Divac.

“Shawn made some big plays defensively and that’s the Shawn Marion we were used to seeing,” Johnson said of his forward, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. “To hold Peja Stojakovic to four points is impressive in its own, but what I was most impressed with Shawn was coming back to get those long rebounds.”

Phoenix outrebounded Sacramento, 51-40. Besides Marion, rookie Amare Stoudemire (11) and Bo Outlaw (10) had double-digit rebounding performances.

“This is something out team was not very good at and it was nice to see three guys with double figures in rebounds,” Johnson said. The teams split their four games this season, with each winning both at home.

“I don’t think it was missed shots, I don’t think it was anything else,” Webber said. “I think it was our total effort and if we want a championship, we’re going to have to stop being so damn cool.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
C. Webber C. Webber
11-29,  22 Pts
11 Rebs, 9 Assists
S. Marbury S. Marbury
8-17,  26 Pts
5 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders