• With Gasol in the lane like a giant from Spain . . . Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire still took it to the rim early and often in a 118--109 win over Pau Gasol and the Lakers on Sunday. After turning in two so-so performances in Los Angeles, Stoudemire tied his career playoff high with 42 points to help Phoenix cut L.A.'s lead in the Western Conference finals to 2--1.
Much Too Hot Rod
• Funny car driver Jim Head found little to laugh about last Saturday at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kans. Head's vehicle burst into flames then hit another car during his semifinal run. Head, 61, emerged from his ride sooty but unscathed.
• Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn parked Montreal center Scott Gomez hard by the boards during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals in Philadelphia on May 18. Coburn & Co. won 3--0 and at week's end held a commanding 3--1 series lead (page 42).