No one produced more than Stoudemire.
The power forward had 22 points and a season-high 20 rebounds, including a career-tying 11 off the offensive boards, in Phoenix’s 106-104 victory.
“Amare was a beast tonight,” Phoenix coach Terry Porter said after Stoudemire’s fourth 20-20 game of his career.
“Amare was unbelievable, getting all those offensive rebounds,” teammate Steve Nash said. “It was beautiful to see. That’s something different for us.”
The Suns, usually on the short end of the rebounding battle, outrebounded the Jazz 54-37.
Even Utah coach Jerry Sloan acknowledged Stoudemire’s domination.
“We had a difficult time keeping him off the offensive boards,” he said. “He was terrific on the boards.”
Sloan also said the Suns’ propensity to get to the foul line in the fourth quarter made a huge difference.
“They shot 18 free throws in the last quarter,” Sloan said. “You can’t just foul them. We seemed to do that a little when it looked like we had them under control.”
With Stoudemire pounding the boards and getting fouled—he went to the line nine times—the Suns were able to hold off the stubborn Jazz.
“We definitely wanted this game before our home crowd,” Stoudemire said. “We came out with a lot of intensity. I was trying to be the aggressor. We did a good job on the boards and set the tone early. I had my focus on the boards the whole night.
“But everybody chipped in. We all had fun.”
In a game that was close throughout, the Suns finally took the lead for good, 100-99, on Boris Diaw’s free throw with 1:55 to play. Then, Stoudemire scored on a layup with 41.4 seconds left, and Nash hit two free throws with 20.7 seconds remaining, giving Phoenix a 104-99 lead. Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko hit a 3-pointer with 15.5 to go, then Diaw and Matt Barnes each made a foul shot before Utah got the final basket.
Leandro Barbosa came off the bench and led the Suns with 25 points. Shaquille O’Neal, who was in foul trouble throughout the second half, had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. Barnes finished with 14 points, and Diaw and Nash with 12 apiece. Nash also had nine assists.
Paul Millsap and C.J. Miles, who hit four of four 3-pointers, topped the Jazz with 20 points each. Kirilenko scored 17 points, Daron Williams had 15 points and 15 assists, and Mehmet Okur had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Utah, playing without leader scorer Carlos Boozer for the 10th straight game (left quad), capitalized on the Suns’ sloppy ballhandling in the first half, scoring 19 points off 11 Phoenix turnovers and forging a 50-50 tie at intermission. In contrast, Utah turned the ball over only nine times, leading to seven Phoenix points.
Even though the Suns shot 52.3 percent from the field (23-for-44) in the first two quarters, they were only 1-for-10 from 3-point range.
It was a back-and-forth half, with the teams exchanging the lead eight times. There also were eight ties. The Jazz got even in the final 1:08 on a layup by Millsap and two jumpers by Williams. At halftime, Utah already had three players in double figures—Miles and Millsap with 12 points apiece and Williams with 10. Stoudemire led the Suns with 11.
The third period was a copy of the first two, and ended tied at 78.
O’Neal incurred his fourth personal with 6:42 left in the quarter and sat down. But Barbosa picked up the offensive slack for Phoenix, scoring 11 points. Meanwhile, the Jazz kept pace by scoring at will underneath against the Suns’ porous interior defense.
O’Neal came back for the start of the fourth period but was tagged with his fifth personal 51 seconds into the quarter and had to leave again. Foul difficulty also hampered the Jazz when Millsap got his fifth with 9:05 remaining and was taken out.
Without Boozer, and centers Jarron Collins (inflamed right elbow) and Kyrylo Fesenko (strained lower back), the Jazz already have missed 69 man games — 24 more than all of last season. … They lost another player in the first quarter when Brevin Knight was taken to a hospital for a CT scan after hit in the throat. … Starting the game, the Suns led the league in field-goal percentage and turnovers; only the 1974-75 Portland Trail Blazers have finished a season No. 1 in both categories. … The Jazz beat the Suns 109-97 in their first meeting this season, even though Williams and Okur did not play. … Nash had six assists in the first half, enabling him to pass Alvan Adams for second place on the Suns’ career assists list with 4,014.