Marion had 26 points and nine rebounds, Stoudemire scored 20 and Nash had nine points and eight assists—all in the first three quarters of Phoenix’s 129-116 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
Coach Mike D’Antoni was hoping to rest his All-Star trio, and they weren’t needed after leading the Suns to a 102-78 third-quarter lead.
“This was one of those games we knew we had to come out and be aggressive and try to get a lead early so we could get some rest for our starters,” Marion said.
Nash has been playing with a sore hamstring and may profit the most, but he saw his string of 11-assist games snapped at 12. Nash, who finished with eight, was trying to become the first player with 11 or more assists in 13 consecutive games since John Stockton in 1990-91.
Jim Jackson took up the slack with 18 points and a season-high 10 assists, becoming the only Phoenix player other than Nash to have a double-digit assists game.
“The good thing about this team is you’ve got interchangeable parts,” said Jackson, acquired Jan. 21 from New Orleans. “You know, like when Steve went down, Leandro came and stepped up. That’s what it’s going to take from us anyway, when we get to the playoffs—a consistent team effort.”
Phoenix beat the Blazers 121-99 on Dec. 5 and 117-98 on Jan. 2 and completed its first sweep of Portland since the 1994-95 season.
“Phoenix is a well-oiled machine,” Pritchard said. “They run it up and down. Nash is without a doubt the MVP in my mind. He makes them run. They’ve got great inside-outside guys, and it’s almost like throughout the game, you’re just trying to pick your poison.”
The Suns led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter and went ahead 106-78 on baskets by Johnson and Barbosa in the first 46 seconds of the final period.
Abdur-Rahim made a 15-foot jumper with 10:58 to go, and the Blazers outscored the Suns 29-16 in the final 8:15, starting with the last of Stoudamire’s three 3-pointers, to cut the deficit to 113-90.
But it was mostly reserves against reserves down the stretch.
“I said it two weeks ago, and I’m going to keep saying it: With the schedule we’ve got, if we can’t get people to grow up real fast, it’s going to get real ugly,” Stoudamire said of the Trail Blazers, who have lost nine of 11.
Jackson, who started in place of sore-legged Quentin Richardson, and Barbosa each made a pair of 3-pointers during a 20-8 run that lifted the Suns to a 30-20 lead with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
The Suns got the last basket of the first quarter, starting an 11-2 surge, and went ahead 43-26 on Marion’s three-point play with 9:12 left in the second.
Portland responded with an 8-1 spurt in the next 3 minutes, getting within 44-34 on Stoudamire’s 20-footer from the corner. But Nash answered with a baseline jumper, and the Blazers never got closer than 10 points after that.
“After the second quarter, we got the job done,” D’Antoni said. “We got a lot of rest for our guys. The game went exactly the way we hoped.”
Richardson sat out because of a hyperextended left knee, but said he would play Sunday night in Seattle. … The Suns (45-14) hadn’t won 45 games since 2000-01. … Blazers F Zach Randolph missed a second straight game because of a sore right knee, originally diagnosed as a bone bruise. Randolph believes there is worse damage and will seek a second opinion. … The Suns outscored the Blazers 90-18 on 3-point shots in the three-game season series. … The Blazers scored their season-high, but gave up an opponent’s high. … University of Arizona coach Lute Olson, who coached Stoudamire in college, was at courtside hours after his team beat Arizona State in nearby Tempe.