PHOENIX (AP)—A December loss at Minnesota is a blemish, to say the least, on the Phoenix Suns’ season. The rematch, though, was no sweat.
Steve Nash had a near-flawless game, five Phoenix players scored 17 points or more, and the Suns sent the Timberwolves to their 15th consecutive road loss Friday night with a 115-95 rout.
Nash was 6-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line for 17 points with 13 assists. He had one turnover in 28 minutes.
“He was pretty efficient tonight, I would think,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points, Raja Bell 20, Leandro Barbosa 19 and Shawn Marion 18 for the Suns, who shot 54 percent from the field. They were at 60 percent before D’Antoni began to empty the bench midway through the final quarter.
Minnesota used the same game plan that led to its 100-93 home victory over Phoenix on Dec. 8, one of only five wins for Minnesota this season.
“Our whole game plan was to stop their layups and hopefully get hot early like the last game we won, when they kind of cooled off in the second half,” McCants said, “but in this case they hit shots all night.”
The Suns were coming off a 106-98 victory over the Lakers on Thursday in Los Angeles. Nash had 20 assists in that win, which moved Phoenix back ahead of the Lakers with the best record in the Western Conference.
“I thought we did a good job, especially after coming back from L.A.,” D’Antoni said. “Emotionally sometimes you are down a little bit. I thought that after the opening quarter we tightened up defensively and moved the ball extremely well and got a nice easy win.”
The Suns won for the ninth time in 12 games but just their third in the last five.
“I don’t get into that revenge, payback, I don’t do that,” Marion said, “because you can go out there and get beat every night. This is the NBA. It’s a long season.”
Nash had 13 points and nine assists in the first half. Seven of his assists came in the second quarter, when the Suns transformed a 32-28 deficit into a 63-49 halftime lead.
“That was really the difference, that second quarter,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said.
Phoenix shot 65 percent (13-of-20) from the field in the second, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
Marion sank two 3s and Barbosa one in a 13-0 run that put the Suns ahead 54-43 with 3:07 left in the half. Nash made two free throws with 35 seconds to play, then Boris Diaw sank a 3 from the corner to give Phoenix its 14-point lead at the break.
The Suns turned it into a blowout in the third quarter, using an 8-0 run— including two virtually uncontested fast-break layups by Bell—that gave Phoenix an 86-60 lead on Barbosa’s drive to the hoop with 3:38 left. ^Notes: Minnesota’s lone road win was Nov. 26 at New Orleans. … The Timberwolves play four of their next six on the road. … Phoenix has more wins in January (six) than Minnesota has all season (five). … D’Antoni put Nash back in the game briefly with 8:17 to play and Phoenix leading 102-82. … Rookie D.J. Strawberry came off the bench in Phoenix’s regular first-half rotation ahead of Marcus Banks, who didn’t play until the final minutes.