Suns beat Nuggets for 4th straight win

DENVER (AP) — Amare Stoudemire had 20 points and 17 rebounds, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 109-97 victory over Denver squad missing Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday night.

Jason Richardson added 20 points, and Steve Nash had 17 points and 10 assists as the Suns matched a season high with their fourth straight win.

This isn't the easiest of arenas to win in, either. The Nuggets had won nine straight at Pepsi Center before Phoenix snapped the streak.

Nene and J.R. Smith each scored 15 points for the Nuggets. Joey Graham, filling in for Anthony, finished with 13.

Anthony sat out a sixth straight game because of a sprained left ankle. He injured his ankle Jan. 23 against New Orleans and it has taken longer than expected to heal.

The All-Star forward paced the sideline in a suit and tie trying to energize the Nuggets. But that didn't quite work out. Not the way the Suns were shooting.

Phoenix led 86-72 heading into the fourth quarter and extended the lead to 22.

The Nuggets made a late charge, cutting it 14 points with 2:19 remaining. But Denver managed only Graham's basket the rest of the way.

Phoenix had six players score in double figures, including Channing Frye who came off the bench to score 13. Kenyon Martin had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Denver.

The Suns were clicking along in the first half, extending their lead to 13 points on Nash's off-balance 3-pointer in the waning seconds.

That shot pretty much typified the half for Phoenix. Nash tracked down a loose ball with the shot clock winding down and swished a twirling 26-footer.

Chauncey Billups followed Nash's act up with a jumper, cutting Phoenix's lead to 60-49 at halftime.

Billups found out before the game that he was added to the All-Star squad, replacing injured New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul.

So much for those vacation plans. Billups' intention was to take the family to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for some fun and relaxation over the All-Star break.

Now, that just may have to wait.

Billups is in the midst of one of his finest seasons, averaging a career-best 19.4 points coming into the game.

He had a rough night Wednesday, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

In recently weeks, Stoudemire has heard his name pop up in trade rumors. Suns coach Alvin Gentry had a discussion with his big man about the speculation, simply reminding Stoudemire the situation is out of his control.

What's fueling the trade rumors is the fact that Stoudemire can opt out of the final year of his deal after the season.

"I told him he's got to try to put it behind him and move on because whatever happens is going to happen," Gentry said before the game. "It always happens this time of year, there's someone that's always the talk — it just happens to be him this year."

NOTES: Until Wednesday, the home team in this series had won the last 10 games. ... Billups joins Anthony on the West squad, giving the Nuggets multiple players on the All-Star squad for the 10th time in team history.