Mar. 27, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward (21) Tim Duncan takes a shot against Phoenix Suns center (4) Marcin Gortat in the first quarter at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Tonight the San Antonio Spurs exhibited the divide between the Western Conference elite and the rest of the crowded bunch desperately fighting for a spot in the postseason. The Suns could have beaten many Western Conference foes tonight with their offensive output, but their defensive deficiencies were exploited by a clear NBA title contender.
Both teams came out gunning in the first. Tim Duncan scored the first 7 points for the Spurs with a variety of arc-less shots. Shannon Brown came up huge with 14 points. With the Spurs up 29-23, a 3 by Brown and a 2 by Nash cut the lead to 1 at the end of the quarter.
In the second, with the Spurs leading 42-36, Sebastian Telfair ran off 9 consecutive points to keep the Suns close, but the Suns defense couldn't stop a variety of Spurs from scoring at will. A Duncan bucket stretched the San Antonio lead to 52-43. But consecutive hoops by Telfair and Gortat reduced the Spurs' lead to 3. Both squads traded hoops until the midway break interrupted, with the Spurs leading 62-57. The trio of Gortat, Brown and Telfair led the Suns with 44 of the Suns' 57 first half points.
In the third, Shannon Brown continued his torrid shooting with a 3 and a 2 to start the quarter, tying the game at 64. The Suns went on 10-0 run to take a 69-64 lead. But the Spurs, led by Manu Ginobili, erased the Suns' lead. The Suns fought back, outscoring the Spurs 26-22, yet still trailed by a point at the end of 3.
In the 4th, the Spurs outscored the Suns 12-4, as the second unit led by Ginobili and Tony Parker scored at will while the Suns bench dwellers missed 8 of 10 field goal attempts. After a timeout Steve Nash and Channing Frye turned the ball over as the Spurs stretched their lead to 11. A Kawhi Leonard 3 gave the Spurs a 12 point lead with 5 minutes left. The Suns could get no closer than 5 for the duration.
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH BULLETS:
- Jared Dudley registered 2 point performance tonight. And it wasn't due to anything he did or didn't do, but rather the the career night night Shannon Brown had. Dudley has stated that he lets the game come to him, but tonight he waited ... and waited ... and nothing ever came to him.
- Shannon Brown went for a career high 32 points while starting for the injured Grant Hill, hitting on 5-10 3's.
- Marcin Gortat scored 21 and grabbed 14 rebounds
- Steve Nash hit for 16 while dishing 8 assists
- Sebastian Telfair anchored the bench with 11 points
- Grant Hill was sorely missed on the defensive end, which, of course, doesn't need to be stated
"We weren't very good defensively ... we had a couple of crucial turnovers ... Tony's (Parker) been playing like an MVP. At the end of the games he does a good job of controlling games ... We over dribbled on too many plays ... We didn't do a very good job of flowing our offense ... down the stretch we gave up too many offensive rebounds ..."
This was a solid punch to the gut. The Suns could not stop the Spurs tonight. They competed, which constitutes a very, very, very small victory, but the outcome was a loss, which is a very, very, very large blow to their playoff hopes, especially on a night when 9th seeded Houston lost. There's no time to cry, no reason to kick the cat or give your girlfriend the silent treatment; the Clippers are up tomorrow night.