Phoenix Suns fall short in fourth quarter, lose to Spurs 108-97

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns faced the Spurs in their second consecutive game against a team missing a star player. The first time they were successful in dispatching the Clippers. This time they encountered a second star player that would have none of that. Tony Parker had a dominating, dazzling performance and quelled the Suns hopes of a three game winning streak.

Recap:

After the Suns got out to a quick 6-0 lead, Tony Parker asserted himself on offense to help the Spurs regain control with a 13-3 run of their own. Both teams settled into a rhythm at that point in what turned out to be an entertaining and well played quarter of competitive basketball. Tony Parker led the way with 10 points for the Spurs, while Marcin Gortat had seven points for the Suns. Score: 26-26.

The second quarter saw the Spurs trying to pull away and the Suns scrambling to keep up. The Suns vim and vivacity was tangible, but effort only goes so far. Michael Beasley continued his renascent play and scored 10 points in the quarter to keep the Suns close while the Spurs twice pushed their lead to seven. Neither team seemed very interested in playing much defense, which was reflected by gaudy shooting percentages from both teams. The pace was frenetic and the second quarter was a deluge of points as the Spurs outscored Phoenix 33-30. Halftime score: Spurs 59, Suns 56.

First half notable players:

Michael Beasley had 12 points, 4 rebounds and ZERO turnovers.

Jared Dudley had 12 points on 5-6 from the field and 2-3 from three point range.

Tony Parker scored 14 points on 6-7 shooting.

Stephen Jackson had 10 points and 4 rebounds with perfect shooting from the field and free throw line.

Jared Dudley was a catalyst for the Suns in the third quarter as the Suns sent a resounding message to the Spurs that they weren't going away. Both teams continued to lob salvos at each other and the Suns finished the period ahead in the haymakers department. Speaking of haymakers, Shannon Brown landed one on Manu Ginobili and was ejected from the game with a flagrant two. After the dust cleared the Suns went into the final period on top by one. Score: Suns 82, Spurs 81.

Too much Tony Parker. Parker ignited a 10-0 Spurs run that gave them a 96-88 lead with 5:41 remaining. The Suns couldn't stop the bleeding. Parker finished with 11 in the quarter and earned the official title of "Suns Killer" for the night. Michael Beasley finished a superb game with 11 of his own in the period as he tried valiantly to keep the Suns close. On the road. Against the Spurs. Even without Duncan a tall task. The Suns played well, but still fell. Final score: Spurs 108, Suns 99.

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Player of the Game:

Tony Parker. Tony Parker. Tony Parker.

He went for 31 points, and nearly every one of them seemed to be impactful. Throw in the fact that he did it on 13-17 shooting while dishing seven assists and this was one of the better overall performances we've witnessed against the Suns this season.

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Comments of the Game:

The Spurs honestly have so many role players around Manu and Parker right now.

They just pass well, pretty much do drive and kick like old Suns and shoot a lot of 3's. That's why they're winning so many games, they have good shooters, but in the playoffs they won't survive.

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The air must be fouling Ginobili because I saw no contact.

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This is a pretty fun game.

These are the ones I don't mind watching a losing season of.

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I like how we are playing, but seriously guys, losing draft position at this juncture would be crazy foolish.

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Lindsey Hunter: "This coaching thing is easy..."

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Beasley's putting on his best Ancient Egyptian princess look.

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That awkward moment when Shannon Brown leaving the game (being ejected) might actually help your team.

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Parker is only 4 years older than Dragic, but this is his 12th season.

This is Goran's 5th. How crazy is that?

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I'm digging that jump pass by Dragic.

First class ticket to turning the ball over.

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There must have been a croissant at the top of the rim for Diaw to jump like that.

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And the dead coach ball has run out of air.

No more bouncing. Get ready for a brutal 15 game stretch my friends.

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The Good:

The Suns maintained their recent intensity and improved play by keeping pace with a Spurs team that was 19-2 at home this season coming into the game. Duncan may have been out, but this was a pitfall game for the Suns and they acquitted themselves admirably.

The Suns have won with a more plodding style recently, but tonight showed the versatility to play at a more frenzied pace and stay in a game dominated by offense. Not only that, but they kept it entertaining in a season with plenty of forgettable performances.

Coincidence or not, Michael Beasley has been a startlingly different player since the coaching change. It may be time to experiment with a return to the starting lineup if this trend continues as he has been the team's best scorer, and at times the best player, over the last three games. 25 points (on 11-16 shooting) and six boards qualifies as outstanding.

Jared Dudley also lit it up. His 10-12 night was spectacular, but in a weird way sort of ho-hum as Beasley and Parker also turned in astounding performances. 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists is still a great game, though, even if he did get outshined.

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The Bad:

Even though the Suns performed admirably, they allowed the Spurs to impose their pace and style on them. It can be advantageous to be malleable enough to compete in different types of games, but typically when you play to another team's strengths it doesn't promote beneficial results.

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The Ugly:

Shannon Brown's flagrant two on Manu Ginobili at the end of the third quarter. Was it the most violent or blatant flagrant foul? No. But at a pivotal point in the game that type of play is foolish. The excitement and energy of the game apparently got the best of Brown. Play with emotion, but don't let your emotions play with you.

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Final Thoughts:

The Suns played their second straight game against a very good team that was missing a star player. The first time they pulled it off. The second they ran out of gas.

The team has put on a brave face since the tumultuous coaching change, but tonight may have been the beginning of the end of that stage. The Suns upcoming schedule is parlous and unforgiving.

Continue to expect the Suns to play with a "no quit" attitude.

Just don't expect many more wins.

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