PHOENIX (AP)—Yes, it can be done. The Phoenix Suns can win without their usual triple-digit deluge.
Amare Stoudemire scored 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting and the Suns won for the first time this season with less than 100 points, pulling away over the final 1 1/2 minutes to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 94-88 Friday night.
The Suns had been 0-5 when scoring under 100.
“I thought we just gutted it out,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We just weren’t really sharp.”
The sluggish victory followed a 108-88 blowout of the Clippers in Los Angeles on Thursday night, marking the first consecutive victories for Phoenix since Dec. 7. Stoudemire had 30 points and 15 rebounds on Thursday.
“We played a lot better than we did last night, which is good for us,” the Clippers’ Chris Kaman said. “Still, it’s never fun to lose a game.”
Grant Hill added 22 points and eight assists for the Suns. He scored 10 in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter. Hill took a shot in the chin from Corey Maggette’s elbow, resulting in a cut that required six stitches after the game.
Shawn Marion had 18 points and Steve Nash 10 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who won their 21st game, tops in the Western Conference. Phoenix tied a franchise record with 16 blocked shots, four by Brian Skinner and three apiece by Stoudemire and Hill.
“All we need to do is put our mind to it,” Stoudemire said. “From athleticism to intelligence, we’ve got it all. Everybody’s smart basketball players, we just need to do it. We’re on the right track.”
Kaman had 22 points and 20 rebounds for the severely depleted Clippers. Sam Cassell, back in the starting lineup, added 21 points.
“Scoring’s never going to be a problem. If I get the minutes, I’m going to score the basketball and get my team basically open shots,” Cassell said. “We had a chance. That’s all you can expect on the road. This game went down to the wire. They showed why they’re a good team.”
Cassell’s 3-pointer with 1:35 to play cut Phoenix’s lead to 87-86. Stoudemire scored inside to make it 89-86, then Kaman put up an air ball on a hook shot.
Stoudemire made a 19-footer as the shot clock expired to put Phoenix ahead 91-86 with 40 seconds to go.
The Suns led virtually the entire game. The Clippers, who stayed close despite shooting 35 percent, had a pair of one-point leads in the third quarter.
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy liked the defensive effort.
“Overall, we played a lot of things the way we want to play them,” he said.
Phoenix was up by as many a 36 Thursday night, and they were off to a fast start in this one, too.
Playing their third game in four nights, the Suns led by as many as 14 in the second quarter but were up just 66-65 entering the fourth. Hill scored the Suns’ last two points of the third quarter and first seven of the fourth. His three-point play after Boris Diaw’s soaring block of Al Thornton’s layup put Phoenix ahead 73-67. Diaw followed with a 17-footer and it was 75-67 9:15 from the finish.
Another three-point play by Hill, to the vehement displeasure of Cassell, gave the Suns a 79-69 lead with 7:36 to go. But Los Angeles went on a 14-6 surge to cut the lead to 85-83 on Cassell’s turnaround 14-footer with 2:11 left.
After misfiring on several opportunities, the Clippers got their first lead of the game at 63-62 when Kaman made an 18-footer with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Hill’s inside basket on a pass from Brian Skinner put Phoenix ahead 66-65 after three quarters.
Phoenix, the NBA’s highest-scoring team, scored 15 points in the third quarter, shooting 7-for-22.
Nash moved past Walter Davis to third on the Suns’ all-time assist list. … Maggette was 3-of-17 from the field, Thornton 1-for-7 and the Suns’ Raja Bell 1-for-7. Bell was 2-for-13 in the last two games. … Nash, the NBA’s leading free throw shooter at 93 percent entering the game, missed three from the line. He had missed only seven, out of 95, going into the contest. … The Suns were 13-for-23 at the foul line, the Clippers 21-of-25. … By going 3-0 against the Clippers, the Suns won the season series for the first time since 2004-05. The teams meet only once more, Jan. 15 in Los Angeles.