Suns storm back in second half to KO Nuggets

The Clippers' Corey Maggette looks for an open teammate while being pressured by Mavericks defenders Jason Terry, left, and Jason Kid int he first half Monday.
The Clippers' Corey Maggette looks for an open teammate while being pressured by Mavericks defenders Jason Terry, left, and Jason Kid int he first half Monday. AP

PHOENIX -- As Amare Stoudemire stood at the foul line with 1:42 remaining, chants of "M-V-P, M-V-P" reverberated from the sellout crowd at US Airways Center.

Stoudemire made the foul shot, completing an MVP-caliber performance with 41 points and 14 rebounds in the Phoenix Suns' 132-117 comeback victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

"Only 41 ... I could have played a little better," Stoudemire said jokingly.

Steve Nash scored 36 points as the Suns rallied from a 22-point second-quarter deficit to reach 50 wins for the fourth season in a row.

"At halftime, we came together and said, 'Let's fight for it,' " Stoudemire said. "We dug in in the second half."

Phoenix tied the idle Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the Pacific Division and strengthened its position in the tight Western Conference playoff race.

The comeback matched the third-best in Suns' history. They also rallied from a 22-point second-period deficit against the Boston Celtics in 1994. The franchise record is 29.

Stoudemire scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, when the Suns outscored Denver 46-25. It was his franchise-record 11th 40-point game and second this season. He now has scored 30 or more points in five of his last six games.

The Suns not only shot better and played tight defense in the second half, they also outrebounded Denver by a 26-6 margin.

"In this league, no lead is safe, especially with a team like the Phoenix Suns," Denver's Carmelo Anthony said.

MAVERICKS 93, CLIPPERS 86, at Los Angeles -- Jason Kidd scored 27 points, Josh Howard got 12 of his 25 in the fourth quarter, and Dallas held off banged-up but stubborn Los Angeles to complete a sweep of the four-game season series.

The Mavericks are seventh in the Western Conference standings, five games behind front-running San Antonio and New Orleans with eight games remaining -- including the regular-season finale against the Hornets in Dallas. Just six games separate the first nine teams in the West, and one of them is going to miss the playoffs.

Jason Terry had 20 points for Dallas, playing its fourth game since reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki went down with knee and ankle injuries. Howard, who scored 30 or more points in the Mavericks' first three games without their leading scorer, was just 4 for 15 from the field over the first three quarters and 8-for-20 overall.

JAZZ 129, WIZARDS 87, at Salt Lake City -- C.J. Miles scored a career-high 29 points and Utah set a team record with 15 3-pointers in a rout of Washington.

Deron Williams had 12 points and 16 assists, despite resting most of the fourth quarter, and Mehmet Okur returned from a stomach virus with 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

RAPTORS 104, BOBCATS 100, at Charlotte, N.C. -- Chris Bosh scored 32 points and Toronto remained alone in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Bosh hit 13 of 16 free throws and added eight rebounds and five assists for the Raptors, who won for the third time in four games to pull a game ahead of idle Philadelphia in the playoff race.

Anthony Parker added 20 points and T.J. Ford added 15, including the clinching free throw with 1.9 seconds left for the Raptors, who bounced back from a home loss to New Orleans on Sunday.

Jason Richardson scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half for the Bobcats.

HAWKS 116, GRIZZLIES 99, at Memphis, Tenn. -- Josh Smith had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists as Atlanta built an early lead.

Al Horford and Joe Johnson scored 19 points apiece for Atlanta, and Mike Bibby had 17, Josh Childress 14 and Marvin Williams 12. Johnson also had eight assists and Bibby seven.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 29 points.

PACERS 105, HEAT 85, at IndianapoliS -- Jermaine O'Neal scored nine points after sitting out for more than two months with a knee injury, and Indiana beat Miami.

O'Neal shot 3-for-4 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line in 18 minutes. He had missed 33 straight games with a bone bruise, and the Pacers went 12-21 during that stretch.

TIP-INS -- Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Brewer both missed Utah's game against Washington on Monday because of injuries, while the Wizards' Caron Butler sat out with a strained hamstring. ... Orlando forward Brian Cook could miss up to two weeks because he broke his right middle finger in practice. ...