The Phoenix forward listened calmly all week, then responded with a monster game. Stoudemire attacked the Los Angeles Lakers relentlessly, matching his career playoff high with 42 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to power the Suns to a 118-109 victory Sunday night. The win sliced the Lakers’ lead in the Western Conference finals to 2-1.
All that talk about a Lakers-Boston final has been put on hold. The Suns can pull even in the series with a victory at home in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
Stoudemire, with a bandage over a cut he received when his goggles slammed into his forehead on a drive to the basket, said he has worked through serious knee and eye injuries and kept his career at an All-Star level.
“You can never question my determination,” he said, “my focus, my dedication. That’s one of the reasons I’ve persevered through injuries and continue to try to improve every summer. My dedication to the game is at an all-time high.”
Phoenix, dominated inside in the first two games, won with its big men, and a big advantage at the free throw line.
The Suns played a lot of zone defense after the Lakers averaged 126 points and shot 58 percent in the first two games. Los Angeles shot 48 percent in this one. The Lakers had a 27-4 advantage in second-chance points, but were outscored 18-3 on fast-break points.
“When they started making shots, we had to go to the zone,” Gentry said. “Tonight it worked and we stuck with it.”
Los Angeles, though, led 90-89 when Odom made two free throws with 8:47 to play.
Lopez entered the game for the struggling Channing Frye, and Phoenix took the lead for good 91-90 on Jared Dudley’s baseline drive with 8:27 left.
Frye missed all seven of his shots, five of them 3s, and is shooting 1 for 20 in the series, 1 for 14 on 3s. He has missed 17 straight shots.
Phoenix scored the last seven points of the second quarter to lead 54-47 at the half and was up 86-84 after three quarters, thanks to two free throws by Leandro Barbosa with 1.5 seconds left following an ill-advised foul at midcourt by Shannon Brown.