SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Even with an abundance of road games in the first two months of the season, the Phoenix Suns are right where they expected, on top of the Pacific Division standings.
"We've had a tough schedule and after some of those losses it's been emotional in our locker room after games where we have made it sound like desperate times, but it's really not," said Raja Bell, who had nine fourth-quarter points.
The Suns have seemingly recovered from a stretch earlier this month where they lost five of eight games, concluding with a loss to the Lakers on Dec. 25. They beat the Clippers in back-to-back games earlier this week and were in control practically the entire game against the Kings.
It was another successful game away from home for Phoenix, which has the most road victories (13) in the Western Conference. The Suns have played 19 of their first 31 games on the road. Five of their next six games are at home, starting Jan. 3 against Seattle.
"We've been a good road team the past few years and this was a tough month for us," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We had a lot of away games and were 10-5 (overall), but it only means something later if we take care of our home court."
After the Kings cut the lead to 99-96 on a basket by Dahntay Jones, Stoudemire followed with a dunk, igniting a 12-0 run by the Suns, who went ahead 111-96 with 2:12 left.
Prior to the game, the Kings learned Ron Artest could face possible surgery this week to remove chipped bone fragments in his right elbow. The Kings are 2-8 without Artest in the lineup and went winless in their four-game homestand.
"They are thinking it might be two or three weeks (Artest) will be out, but they are not sure yet," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "I didn't know that he wasn't going to go tonight. I actually thought he was planning on trying (to play). I haven't officially talked to him or anybody about what's exactly going to happen."
Francisco Garcia scored 30 points for the Kings, who have lost five of six at home, where they are now 8-8 this season.
"For some reason Francisco Garcia goes off against us and he had another good game tonight," said Stoudemire, who made his first six shots and scored 14 first-quarter points. "We wanted to get that win, that's what got us going at the end. But we need to do that consistently."
"We are just going to put this one behind us, we can't get frustrated because we are losing games," Garcia said. "We've gotta start making a run."
Marion hit four 3-pointers and had 16 points in the third quarter when Phoenix led 93-86. He had a quiet opening half with three points.
Barbosa scored 20 points and Stoudemire had 19 to help the Suns build a 64-55 halftime lead.
- Phoenix is unbeaten in 19 games this season when holding a lead entering the fourth quarter.
- The two teams combined for only seven first-half turnovers.
- Garcia scored a career-high 31 points in a November game in Phoenix.