Originally created 11/04/04

Suns top Hawks in NBA opener



PHOENIX - Amare Stoudemire 18 of his 23 points in the first half and the Phoenix Suns raced past the Atlanta Hawks 112-82 in the NBA opener for both teams on Wednesday night.

Stoudemire also had eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Joe Johnson scored 17 and Steve Nash had 12 points in his Suns' debut. Shawn Marion added 10 points and nine boards. All four sat out the final quarter.

Casey Jacobsen also scored 10 points in a game that turned into a rout during the second quarter. The Suns led by as many as 40, 95-55, in the fourth.

Yuta Tabuse entered the game with 10 minutes left to become the first Japanese-born player to play in an NBA game. The 5-foot, 9-inch point guard scored seven points, including a 3-pointer that put Phoenix up 100-64 with 4:58 to play.

Antoine Walker scored 21 on 9-of-22 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds for Atlanta. Al Harrington added 13 but made just four of 16 shots in an ugly head coaching debut for Atlanta's Mike Woodson, a former Detroit Pistons coach hired to help rebuild the sputtering franchise. Rookie Josh Childress scored 12 in his NBA debut.

The Suns shot 61 percent (27-for-44) in the first half, outscoring the Hawks 36-12 the second quarter to open up a 64-35 lead at the break.

In the first half, Stoudemire made 8-of-10 shots, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots. Johnson scored 12, Marion 10 and Leandro Barbosa nine in the first two quarters.

Phoenix capped a 17-2 run to go up 60-31 when Marion grabbed his own miss and scored with 2:33 left in the half. The surge featured a spectacular play by Stoudemire, who grabbed a loose ball with one hand, then made a quick move to the hoop for a ferocious dunk.

The Suns stretched the lead to 71-37 with a 7-2 spurt to start the second half, capped by a Johnson's driving layup. The lead reached 80-44 on Casey Jacobsen's 3-pointer with 4:22 left in the third quarter.

NOTES: With the blowout, and the Suns' new depth, Johnson played 25 minutes, breaking his 35-game streak of playing at least 40 minutes per game. It was the longest such streak since Nate Thurmond's 37 consecutive games from Dec. 30, 1968 to March 7, 1969.... The Suns waived forward Paul Shirley on Wednesday.... About 30 members of the Japanese media were at the game, which was televised live in Japan by two networks, NHK and TV Tokyo.... Atlanta has only one player - Boris Diaw - who was with the Hawks when they beat the Suns in Phoenix last season.... The Suns had a 14-0 advantage on fastbreak points in the first half.... Phoenix's most one-sided victory last season was by 31 points.