Sharpshooting Suns rout reeling Minnesota 152-114

Published 3:28 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It’s an NBA law of physics: Put the highest-scoring team in the league against arguably the worst defense and watch the scoreboard light up like the Fourth of July.

Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Amare Stoudemire 25, then sat with the rest of the Phoenix starters while the Suns’ reserves finished off a 152-114 rout of Minnesota on Tuesday night in the highest-scoring game by an NBA team this season.

Lou Amundson matched his career high with 20 points as Phoenix sent the Timberwolves to their 10th straight loss and 16th in the last 17 games.

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The Suns, with eight players in double figures, shot 56 percent from the field and 15 of 31 from 3-point range to win their ninth in 12 games.

“We’re just trying to gear up for the last 15 games,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said, “have a pace that we’re comfortable with.”

Corey Brewer scored 21 for the Timberwolves, who set a franchise record for most points allowed in a game.

“Well, that’s certainly what happens when you don’t play any defense,” Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said.

Phoenix pulled alone into sixth place in the tight scramble for playoff positioning in the West. The Suns trail No. 5 Oklahoma City by a half-game and No. 4 Utah by 1 1/2 games. It was a perfect night to rest the starters in preparation for Friday night’s home game against the Jazz.

“And you know that will be a physical game,” Gentry said.

This one certainly wasn’t.

“It was a lot of fun,” Stoudemire said. “It was so much fun when the starters were able to rest there in the fourth. We’ll take that.”

Richardson, who scored 15 in the first quarter, matched his season high with six 3-pointers. Steve Nash had 13 points and 14 assists, nine of them in the opening period.

The game matched two of the bottom three teams in terms of points allowed this season. The difference was the Suns have a lot more scorers than woeful Minnesota does.

“We weren’t making that effort. They were playing a lot harder than we were,” Rambis said. “With a team that is in synch the way that they’re in, they understand how to move the basketball, the know where their options and their outlet passes are. They’re just too good.”

It was not the first time this kind of thing happened to Minnesota. The Timberwolves had matched a franchise record by giving up 146 points in a 41-point loss to Golden State last Nov. 9.

“It’s just embarrassing to let a team score that many points and still lose by that many points,” Minnesota’s Ryan Gomes said.

The Suns overwhelmed the Timberwolves’ ever-shaky defense to take a 79-61 halftime lead. It was the second-most points scored in a half in the NBA this season, eclipsed only by the 80-point second half for Milwaukee against Golden State on Nov. 14.

Phoenix hadn’t scored this many in a half since getting 80 in the second half in its 154-point game at Golden State almost exactly a year ago, on March 15, 2009.

The Suns shot 67 percent in the first half (33 of 49), led by Richardson’s 21 points, including 5 of 6 3-pointers. Nash had 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 11 assists in the first half.

Richardson made two 3s and Nash one in the final two minutes of the half as the Suns twice built a 20-point lead before Jonny Flynn’s baseline jumper at the buzzer made it 79-61. The lead reached 29 in the third quarter and a whopping 41 in the fourth.

Leandro Barbosa returned to the Suns after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst in his right wrist and missing 23 games. He had seven points in 16 minutes.