During this four-game winning streak at home, the excellence has come in relentless waves. It is how they closed out San Antonio to start the streak, blew out Memphis and pulled away from Golden State.
Their rekindled ability to produce spurts was as destructive as ever Saturday when a 28-2 run with 20 unanswered second-quarter points sent Phoenix to a 127-99 rout of Sacramento at US Airways Center. The Suns moved into a fifth-place tie with San Antonio in the Western Conference and pulled within 1 1/2 games of the Pacific Division and West lead.
The Suns’ offensive faucet was left open from the previous two games’ 132- and 123-point outputs. Phoenix scored 30 in Saturday’s first 9:15 but led only 41-40 until it began playing defense as it had in the streak’s first three games. That made for a 28-2 run that was like cake and ice cream.
“That second quarter was just about as well as we can play,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said of a 42-14 quarter that was the Suns’ largest plus margin in a quarter since 1990.
The cake was served with Phoenix scoring on 12 consecutive possessions. The scoring came as beautifully as two Amaré Stoudemire 3-point plays and as awkwardly as a Gordan Giricek and Steve Nash bumbling break that Nash bailed out with a jumper.
“Everybody knows they play fast basketball,” Sacramento’s Beno Udrih said. “Even with Shaq in, they still have four guys running the floor well.”
The ice cream on top was a defense that shut the Kings out for more than five minutes and never allowed a second shot during the stretch.
Of course, Phoenix loves to see Sacramento, otherwise known as giant killers with wins this season against each of West’s other top seven teams and a season sweep of Detroit. The Suns polished off a four-game sweep of Sacramento, which has allowed the Suns’ top two scoring halves of the season – 80 in the first half on Nov. 21 in Phoenix and 79 in Saturday’s first half.
Sacramento’s 14 second-quarter points barely outscored Stoudemire (13 points) or Giricek (12) in the quarter.
Stoudemire continued his tear of overpowering offense and better defense. He scored 18 in Saturday’s first half and finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
“It started off on the jump ball,” Stoudemire said. “Totally focused and totally aware of what they wanted to do . . . We didn’t let down. We had a killer instinct. That’s something we’ve been trying to thrive on.”
In the past three games, Stoudemire is shooting 66 percent and averaging 31.7 points.
The Suns made more than 10 3-pointers in consecutive games for the first time since they traded for Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal made all six of his shots Saturday for 17 points.
“We’re starting to pick up our intensity and play,” O’Neal said. “The sky’s the limit for this team.”
The only bad news was Grant Hill sitting the final 2 1/2 quarters after aggravating a wrist sprain. Suns cruise to win vs. Kings