Shaq scores 29 in OT win for short-handed Suns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Often a villain in past years when visiting Arco Arena with the Los Angeles Lakers, aging Shaquille O'Neal played that role once again Friday night for the Phoenix Suns.

Looking like the Shaq of old, O'Neal tied a season high with 29 points and had 13 rebounds and six assists to help the short-handed Suns beat the Sacramento Kings 97-95 in overtime.

"I got a few more touches tonight, and when that happens I'm going to get my points," said O'Neal, who played a season-high 43 minutes. "Back in the day when we had a rivalry going, it was much louder and we had the guy with the cowbell going. Come back guy with the cowbell."

While O'Neal and Grant Hill, another aging veteran who scored 22 points, were carrying the Suns in regulation, Amare Stoudemire was the star in overtime for the Suns. He had six points, including the winner, and blocked two shots to preserve the victory.

With the score tied following a timeout late in overtime, a broken play left Stoudemire with the ball. He took a few dribbles, then hit a 16-foot jumper over Spencer Hawes to give Phoenix a 97-95 with 4.5 seconds left.

John Salmons drove the baseline in the closing seconds, but Stoudemire partially blocked the shot. Hawes got the rebound, but his put back never saw the rim as Stoudemire rejected it to end a game the Suns won without three starters.

"I saw Salmons driving to the basket with a wide open layup," Stoudemire said, "and I moved toward him and he went reverse and I got a piece of it and deflected it to Spencer. I was able to block his shot as well."

Salmons, who led the Kings with 21 points, had his own version of the play while standing in the locker room with six stitches above his left eye, courtesy of that play.

"I still think there was contact, but I don't think anybody is gong to call that at the end of the game," Salmons said. "Amare is a good player. They put the ball in his hands [at the end] and he produced. That's what he does."

The day certainly began poorly for the Suns, who were informed by the NBA league office that Steve Nash would be serving a one-game suspension and teammate Matt Barnes would miss two games for their part in a fight Wednesday against Houston.

The suspensions compounded the problem for the short-handed Suns, who also played without Leandro Barbosa. One of the best sixth man in the NBA, Barbosa left the team Thursday night after hearing the news of his mother's death. He flew to his native Brazil and will be gone for an undetermined time.

Stoudemire, who finished with 12 points, was quiet through much of the game and failed to score in the second half when he only took one shot. But he opened the overtime with two jumpers to put the Suns on top. With Sacramento down by two points, Hawes took a pass from Brad Miller and tied it at 95 on a short banker with 13.9 seconds left.

"Shaq carried us, he did a great job of distributing the ball in the paint," Suns coach Terry Porter said. "We started going to Grant to give Shaq a rest and he made some big shots for us. Then Amare was able to find a rhythm and help us get the win."

Raja Bell had 14 points and Boris Diaw added nine for the Suns, who are trying to play a slower brand of basketball with Porter taking over for Mike D'Antoni. Hill also had nine rebounds, four assists, but committed seven turnovers.

Miller had 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Kings, who fell behind midway through the second quarter and never led again. Beno Udrih had 18 points and Hawes added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

"I think we can play better than we did, but we did what we had to do to put ourselves in a position to win the game," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We just didn't get it done."

With O'Neal on the bench following a timeout and the scored tied, Hill missed a jump shot with 5 seconds left in regulation and Miller secured the rebound. Following two timeouts, Quincy Douby missed a jumper with a second left, sending the game to overtime.

Game notes
Udrih and Suns rookie point guard Goran Dragic played together on Slovenia's national team. ... The loss of Nash, Barnes and Barbosa robbed Phoenix of 35 percent of its scoring this season. ... The Kings continue to play without leading scorer Kevin Martin and top reserve Francisco Garcia, who are both injured. ... Porter started his coaching career in Sacramento as an assistant to Rick Adelman in 2002.