ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—A little defense is about all the Phoenix Suns need to win basketball games these days.
The NBA’s top-scoring team played one very good quarter of defense and that was more than enough to coast to their 11th straight victory, a 103-89 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The Suns held the Magic to 27.8 percent shooting and forced seven turnovers in the third period while outscoring Orlando 30-14 to break open a close game.
“Offensively, we were just OK, but I thought the third quarter was the best defense we ever played and that’s kind of shocking,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“Potentially, we can always play great defense,” Stoudemire said. “Orlando did a great job of hanging with us for awhile, but we put them away when we started playing defense in that third quarter.”
Stoudemire had three blocks and eight rebounds to go with his 30 points, but he had plenty of help. All five Phoenix starters scored in double figures.
The Suns outscored the Magic 20-3 in the first eight minutes of the third quarter to break open what had been a close game. The Magic missed eight straight shots and turned the ball over five times during that stretch.
Stoudemire had 10 points in the quarter and the Suns pushed the lead to 21 points before settling for a 85-67 lead at the end of the period.
The closest the Magic got in the final quarter was 94-83 on a 3-pointer by Travis Diener with 5:41 to play. Marion answered with a dunk and Boris Diaw’s 3-pointer gave the Suns plenty of cushion for the final three minutes.
“They’re good, really good and a lot better defensively than people expect,” said Magic guard Grant Hill, who had 14 points. “We played poorly in the second half, but they had a lot to do with that. They were very active defensively and had us confused.”
That was especially true of Magic center Dwight Howard, who got in early foul trouble and played only 19 minutes before fouling out. Howard scored four points and had three rebounds, both season lows.
Magic coach Brian Hill was even more frustrated, picking up a technical for vehemently arguing the fifth foul called on Howard.
“I didn’t think it was a two-way street,” Hill said. “I thought (Howard) was getting beat on pretty good at one end and every time he touched somebody at the other end, the whistle blew.”
Backup Trevor Ariza had a season-high 19 points and seven rebounds for Orlando. The Magic bench outscored the Suns reserves 52-13.
The Suns got off their typical fast start, scoring 55 points and shooting 56.1 percent in the first half, but the Magic stayed right with them. Darko Milicic replaced Howard and scored 10 points. Keyon Dooling also had 10.
A 3-pointer by Jameer Nelson pulled the Magic even at 53-53 with 42 seconds left in the first half. Marion hit two free throws with 0.8 seconds left to give the Suns a 55-53 halftime edge.
Magic SF Hedo Turkoglu and SG Keith Bogans missed the game with sprained ankles. … Phoenix shot 57.1 percent (12 of 21) in the first quarter, the 11th straight game the Suns have shot 55 percent or better in the opening period. … Phoenix is 7-0 against Eastern Conference teams this season. … Dooling started for the first time this season. … Phoenix is 13-1 since starting the season 1-5. … The Suns are 7-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.