Magic hands Suns first loss

ORLANDO, Fla. - Ryan Anderson admits he's been joking with Rashard Lewis about who will be the Orlando Magic's starting power forward when the All-Star returns from suspension.

For now, it’s no joke: Anderson is filling in just fine.

Anderson had 20 and 10 rebounds, Dwight Howard scored 25 and the short-handed Orlando Magic defeated the previously unbeaten Phoenix Suns, 122-100, on Wednesday night.

“How can I control it? I can’t do much more than what I’m doing now,” Anderson said about the starting spot. “I have a great opportunity to play now. Of course, it’s Rashard Lewis. It’s a given he’s going to play. He’s an All-Star. He’s going to help this team when he comes back.

“It will be great to even be his backup.”

Added coach Stan Van Gundy: “I’ve coached for a long time in a lot of different levels, and I’ve complained about a lot of things. I never recall myself upset or complaining that I have too many good players.”

Playing without injured Vince Carter and Lewis, the Magic built a 23-point lead in the third quarter to pull away from the Suns.

Amare Stoudemire finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds for Phoenix (4-1), which was looking to match the 1984-85 team for the franchise’s best start. The Suns had come back from deficits in the first half but never did come close after the Magic built a big lead late.

“Well, dreams of an undefeated season have gone down,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said.

Jameer Nelson added 16 points, and Mickael Pietrus had 15 points for the Magic.

And Orlando did it despite Carter missing the game with a sprained left ankle that Van Gundy said doesn’t appear serious, while Lewis suspended for the first 10 games after testing positive for an elevated level of testosterone.

Led by a powerful performance by its frontcourt, Orlando opened the third quarter with a 16-4 spurt. Howard and Anderson were slicing through the paint for dunks, and their dominant play inside opened up shots on the perimeter that Orlando – at times – couldn’t seem to miss.

The Magic shot 52.2 percent from 3-point range and 52.3 percent from the field for the game.

Slam Dunks

1 LIEBERMAN TO COACH D-LEAGUE TEAM Nancy Lieberman is set to become the first female head coach of an NBA Development League team. She’ll be announced today as the first coach of the team that will begin play during the 2010-11 season in Frisco, a suburb about a half-hour north of downtown Dallas. A press release sent out by the Dallas Mavericks, which will be an affiliate of the Frisco team, touted the pending announcement of “historic additions” to the new D-League franchise. Among the participants listed for the news conference is “Head Coach Nancy Lieberman.” Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations, will be a co-owner of the team, and Del Harris will be its general manager and Spud Webb its president of basketball operations.

2 FROM SICK BAY Orlando Magic guard Vince Carter is day to day with a sprained left ankle. … Troy Murphy, the league’s second-leading rebounder, missed Indiana’s game at New York with a bruised lower back. … Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa is out for the second straight game with an injured right wrist.

3 SIGNING The Sacramento Kings have signed veteran swingman Ime Udoka to a contract.