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Gentry nets debut win as Clippers fall to Suns

THE Phoenix Suns' 140-100 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers seemed like the good old days to Amare Stoudemire.

Maybe the Suns can turn things around under interim coach Alvin Gentry, who made his debut on Tuesday night one day after replacing Terry Porter.

"It felt totally different," said Stoudemire, who scored 23 points. "We felt relaxed, we felt poised and we just ran and played free."

Returning from the All-Star break, Phoenix played with an energy that had been missing in recent weeks as the team struggled to adapt to Porter's system, which emphasized defense and a halfcourt attack. He went 28-23 and was fired on Sunday night in an uncomfortable sidelight to the National Basketball Association All-Star Game staged in the Suns' building.

The Suns wasted little time blowing out the Clippers. Reverting to its favored up-tempo style, Phoenix raced to an 81-49 halftime lead - matching a US Airways Center record for points in a half - and coasted from there.

Only the New York Knicks, led by former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, have scored more points in a half this year - 82, against Golden State on November 29.

In other NBA games, it was: Rockets 114, Nets 88; Bucks 92, Pistons 86; Pacers 100, 76ers 91; Magic 107, Bobcats 102 (overtime); Knicks 112, Spurs 107, OT; Lakers 96, Hawks 83; Hornets 100, Thunder 98; and Jazz 117, Grizzlies 99.

In Phoenix, Leandro Barbosa scored 24 points to lead the Suns, who shot 62.2 percent from the floor.

As much as he enjoyed the victory, Gentry tried to keep it in perspective.

"Guys, it's one game," Gentry said. "We've still got a lot of work to do.

"I like our effort and I like what we did," he said. "We're not ready to crown ourselves NBA champs yet, OK?"

The Suns' big win came at the expense of a Clippers squad without center Marcus Camby, out with an inner ear infection. The Clippers also played most of the game without leading scorer Zach Randolph, who was ejected in the first quarter after punching Phoenix reserve Louis Amundson.

Eric Gordon had 24 points for the Clippers.

The game turned ugly late in the first quarter, when Amundson and Randolph became tangled while going for a rebound.

Randolph knocked Amundson to the floor with his left elbow, then glared down at him. When Amundson stood to face Randolph, the Clippers forward threw a punch with his left hand and connected with a solid blow. He was immediately ejected.

Randolph said he was merely trying to push Amundson away. "He hopped up and got in my face and almost kissed me in my mouth. I just pushed him out of my face."

Said Amundson: "I was getting in his face, but I wasn't trying to kiss him."

In Houston, Yao Ming had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Shane Battier scored a season-high 19 points as Houston beat New Jersey.

Vince Carter scored 30 points and Brook Lopez added 21 for the Nets, who have lost three straight after a four-game winning streak.


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