Editor's Note: I thought this was funny enough to move to the front page.
WHAT IF??? Phoenix -- If the Suns were worn out from their grueling seven game series with the Spurs, it didn't show on Monday night.
Led by Amare Stoudemire's 28 points and 15 rebounds, the Phoenix Suns jumped out to a 1-0 lead in their Western Conference Finals series over the Utah Jazz, 121-115
Steve Nash added 15 points and 15 assists, and Shawn Marion scored 21 points with 18 rebounds, as the Suns never trailed.
The score was close for the majority of the game, however, as the Jazz' superior rebounding and the excellent play of Deron Williams (31 points, 10 assists) kept the Jazz within single digits the entire game.
Carlos Boozer added 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, who countered the fun-and-gun Suns with some fast-break play of their own, resulting in an immensely enjoyable game that was thrilling to watch.
The Jazz pulled even in the third quarter off Derek Fisher's 3 pointer that tied the score at 81-81, but after a timeout, the Suns went on a 7-0 run, capped by a halfcourt alley-oop from Nash to Marion that brought the raucus crowd to its feet yet again.
The Jazz got within 3 with one minute to play in the fourth behind Andre Kirilenko's free throws, but Nash coolly responded with a 3 from behing a screen to bury the comeback.
Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were both given standing ovations throughout the game, following their gritty performances in games 5 and 7 of the Spurs series.
Following Robert Horry's unnecessary foul in game 4, there was some concern both players could have been ejected for game 5 for leaving the bench. Fortunately, the league ruled against the suspensions, stating there was no "no way the league could reward the San Antonio Spurs for their conduct while punishing the Phoenix Suns for theirs."
Mehmet Okur was held to only 8 points on 3 of 10 shooting, and Derek Fisher was scoreless for most of the first half, before adding 10 points in the fourth quarter.
The Suns bench, led by a resurgent James Jones (15 points, 6 assists) outscored the Jazz bench 54-38, even though the Jazz dominated the glass.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.