heart (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Jared Dudley tweet:
"PHX!!!! This one is for U!!! I know it took a long time but we have finally beaten the SPURS!!.Im so proud of my teammates.Were not done yet"
Tonight, the better team won. Tonight, the better team swept the other team. Behind 29 Amare Stoudemire points and some clutch Jason Richardson buckets down the stretch, the Suns came back again and gutted out a victory against the evil empire that is the San Antonio Spurs.
Oh and that Steve Nash. Heart. Determination. Toughness. After catching an errant Tim Duncan elbow in the third, Nash returned to the game with an ugly Rocky Balboa looking right eye and provided silent inspiration for the rest of his teammates. We cannot say enough about this guy, the value he has to the Phoenix Suns, and how much better he makes his teammates. Onto the recap.
The Spurs jumped out to an early lead as Tony Parker controlled the paint with 6 early buckets. It was clear his shoulder injury wouldn't allow him to shoot from outside of 15 feet, so he took it to the hole. The Suns were slow, out of rhythm and did little to stop him. The Suns began the game 3-11 and struggled to find open looks. The Spurs decided to extend their defenders to take away the Suns' 3-point threats. Yet their rotations were quick, Amare saw little of the orange in the paint and Phoenix fell by as many as 9 points. Two Amare Stoudmire free throws, an LB 3, and a Nash layup closed the lead to 23-19 and the Suns trailed at the end of the quarter, 25-19. Credit the Spurs defense for not allowing the Suns many open looks.
At the end of one quarter, the Suns were shooting 30%, the Spurs 52%.
In the second, the Suns second unit, along with Grant Hill, went on a 13-4 run. As we've come to expect, the defense tightened, forcing the Spurs into 7 turnovers and blocking 2 shots. After a Spurs min-run, the Suns called timeout. The TNT mikes caught Alvin Gentry chastising his group:
"It's not good enough, guys. Get your head in the game, get focused on what you're doing."
The words of wisdom were enough to get the Suns back in the game. A Steve Nash 3 put the Suns up 42-40 for their first lead of the game. Later, a Jared Dudley 3 put the suns up by 6. The Suns had eliminated the Spurs momentum, and ended the half up 50-47.
The Suns had scored 16 points off of 11 Spurs TOs and the Suns bench led the Spurs with 25 points and 8 rebounds, compared to the Spurs' 11 and 5.
Channing Frye started the 3rd for the Suns in place of Jarron Collins in the hopes of generating some offense. Amare Stoudemire picked up a technical foul on a play in which I counted 3 fouls (the last was called after he was smacked on the face and his glasses fell off). But the beast was awoken, as the Suns went on an 8-2 run and found themselves up by 58-49. The Spurs age and lack of depth were apparant as Duncan and co. missed easy open looks in the paint.
The momentum was shifted for good, as Channing Frye hit two 3s and the Suns went up by 11, 64-53. But as is typical against the Spurs, something awful had to happen. While Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen weren't in the building, Tim Duncan's errant elbow was, glancing off of Steve Nash's eye on a random drive. Nash immediately exited, receiving 6 stitches and the Spurs went on an 11-0 run. The Suns led at the end of the 3, 72-71. In game 3, the Spurs led by the same score at the end of 3...Weirdness.
Nash returned in the 4th with a gigantic ice pack on his eye. But the ice did little to slow the swelling. The whole Rocky Balboa analogy was in effect. After a Dudley bomb and Stoudemire basket, the Suns went up 77-71. Nash then nailed a 3, followed by an and one 3 and another 2 to put the Suns up 87-82.
With 6 minutes left, Tim Duncan picked up his 5th foul and slunk to the bench. The Suns turned to the screen and roll again, and Stoudemire finished off 2 straight from Nash, followed by a Dudley and one assited by Nash. The Suns were up 96-87.
The Spurs were not finished, though. San Antonio reeled off 6 straight and after a Nash runner, George hill pumped in a 3, which wouldn't have been so bad -- if he hadn't been bludgeoned by Amare Stoudemire in the act. The Suns clung to a 103-101 lead with 16 ticks left. The Spurs never scored again.
- The Suns bench, with 41 points, 17 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 steals, and a collective +21
- Jared Dudley, with 3 huge bombs, 16 points, and 6 rebounds
- STAT with 29 and 5, 9-10 from the charity stripe
- Jason Richardson with 11 points and 8 boards, along with a key dagger 3 down the stretch.
- Grant Hill with stifling D on Manu Ginobili. Manu finished 2-11 from the field and a -10
- And of course, Steve Nash, who, with one eye, returned to the game, scored, assisted, and guided his squad to victory
"It wasn't ideal. Somehow I willed the first three to go in...my teammates were phenomenal ...I've never played with it closed like this....I just wanted to get what I could for my teammates."
"It feels great. It's always been a bitter taste; tonight it's sweet."
(On the Spurs) We want to be what they are. I think they've done things the right way; there's no quit in them. We've beat a class opponent. They won't you let you play great. We found a way to win...I thought we did a great job. I don't think Grant Hill gets the recognition he deserves. What he's done to Manu, I don't think anyone anyone could do that...(on Steve Nash) I said all along he had a better year than his MVP years...What our bench has done for us this year...What we are is that we are a really good team because we are better collectively than the parts...I got a ton of respect for everyone on the team. We're proud of what we accomplished...(on Amare after the T): I just said it's all about keeping you composure. He's gotta keep his composure...I do think that patience is the key. We aren't a run and gun shoot it up team. We're an under 12 seconds team...We try to play with a rhythm...we've done a good job executing our half court offense....Our rotations have gotten better. We've been finishing plays....One of our big concerns going into the series was the offensive rebounds....We controlled the boards, we did a great job of controlling that...When he came back, he said I'm gonna play. He missed some shots because of the vision. He did a great job with the high screen and roll.
Pop open the Cristal (or Korbel), light your victory cigars and enjoy the moment cause it doesn't get any sweeter (at the moment.)