New team, old outcome: Spurs outlast Suns 99-96

Plumdog is a worse nickname than Pierre the Pelican. - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns finished up a three game road trip with a familiar result in San Antonio, but the way that the Suns played left me with a very different feeling. I wasn't dejected by a loss, but proud of a scrappy young team that is finding its way.

Recap:

Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan went to work inside early, scoring 10 of the Spurs first 14 points to get things going for the evil empire.  The Suns countered by playing their usual role of rebarbative pests.  P.J. drew a charge on Kawhi Leonard that epitomizes why he succeeds as a player. He draped himself on Leonard all the way down the court as Kawhi brought the ball up, making just enough contact to avoid the foul.  Instead, Leonard lost his cool and dropped his shoulder.  Turnover San Antonio.  Not all went this well.  After being down just one (12-11) halfway through the quarter the Suns relaxed on D and the Spurs rattled off a 15-4 run.  The Spurs look to push the pace and the Suns allowed them to do so unabated.  Markieff Morris helped the Suns close the gap, however, as he built off a strong performance from Tuesday's game by scoring all the Suns points in a 6-2 run to cap the period.  Score: SA 29, Suns 21

The reserves cut into San Antonio's lead at the beginning of the second quarter.  While the Spurs decided to pound the ball down low with Tiago Splitter, Phoenix kept riding Markieff Morris.  He hit a jumper with 8:32 left in the period that pulled the Suns within one (32-31) and gave him 12 points in just eight minutes of play.  The whole unit proved to be pesky, though, including Ish Smith - who reminds me of a wasp out there.  In the midst of the run Archie Goodwin crept up behind Tim Duncan and pilfered the ball, running down the court for a savage dunk followed by a vociferous, primal scream.  The tally was 23-6 to start the quarter before the Spurs finally regained their footing.  It was another impressive stretch by a Suns team that has been showing a propensity to enter beast mode at the drop of a hat.  Duncan scored six quick points to provide some cessation from the Suns barrage, but too much Markieff (18 points on 9-10 shooting and seven boards) helped the Suns head back to the locker room with a two point lead.  Score: Suns 53, SA 51

The Suns and Spurs traded blows in the third quarter in what slowed to a more methodical pace.  Bledsoe (6) and Plumlee (4) shouldered the scoring load, with the latter showing that he was in no way backing down from the challenge of going against an all-time great.  The mixing and matching of lineups with players who haven't realized they aren't supposed to be playing like this continued.  One play after being subbed in Dionte Christmas came up with a steal that led to a fast break layup by Bledsoe.  That's just how it's been working.  The wrong Green (Danny for the Spurs) provided the scoring punch for the bad guys with seven in the quarter.  A very tightly contested quarter ended up with the score being tied dead nuts.  Score: Suns 73, SA 73

The fourth quarter continued to be gripping theater.  The teams traded blows and buckets.  Danny Green continued to flirt with flamethrower status and help the Spurs maintain a scant lead.  Plumlee converted an unusual three point play (missed the second of two free throws then scored a basket) to cut the lead to 83-82, but Marcus Morris committed an offensive foul on the ensuing offensive possession and the Spurs went back up by five (87-82).  Back came the Suns.  Gerald Green followed a three pointer with a two-handed throwdown and it was back to even (87-87).  Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.  Phoenix actually regained the lead 96-95 after Plumlee scored on an acrobatic roll across the lane assisted by P.J. Tucker.  Ultimately, though, Tony Parker was just too much.  Parker scored 15 of the Spurs final 16 points, reminding us that he's still one of the elite point guards in the game.  The Suns had absolutely no answer for him as Parker didn't even miss a shot during the stretch (7-7).  Still, the Suns had two chances to tie the game in the closing seconds.  Bledsoe missed a three pointer, but the rebound went off the Spurs.  After the next inbounds pass the ball ended up in Gerald Green's hands, but the play wasn't executed well and he didn't get a clean look.  His awkward launch from well behind the line was off the mark, allowing the Spurs to escape with  a harrowing victory.

Final Score: SA 99, Suns 96

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Player of the Game:

Tony Parker (begrudgingly).  After being stifled for the first 41 minutes of the game Parker managed to score 15 points on 7-7 shooting in the final seven, damn near single-handedly carrying the Spurs to the victory.

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Comments of the Game:

I feel like Green is gonna be hot this game.

No, not Danny Green.

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"Plumlee: don't let his looks fool you, he's a terrific atlete."

Translation: he's white!

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Dear Bright Side of the Sun Doubters,

Get Bent.

Regards,

Markieff Morris

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How come the refs at Spurs games never take us and give the points when they bet?

We're a 15-point underdog tonight.

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I have absolutely no idea what to make of what I'm seeing from Markieff Morris.

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Popovich is seriously yelling about the Suns travelling???

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black........

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I've been straight impressed by our fringe NBA players.

They've looked like they aren't fringe NBA players.  Ish and Dionte in particular.  Plumlee too if that's what he was categorized as.

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Seriously - this is like a playoff game!

And who would have thought we'd have THIS atmosphere against the Spurs on the 5th game of the season?

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Professor Plum

In the air, with the orange roundie

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This loss.  I can accept.  Good game.

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The Good:

The Bench.  The reserves for Phoenix outscored their counterparts 46-24.  The Morrii, through some diablerie, have looked like real NBA basketball players for two straight games.  Ish Smith darts around the court like a whirling dervish.  Dionte was only on the court for 28 seconds before he started a fast break with a steal.  Archie Goodwin threw one down with fervor.  The box score may not love these guys, but it's easy to be enamored if you watch them play.

Markieff Morris.  He followed an impressive performance last night with 23 points (on 11-13 shooting) and 12 rebounds.  Let's hope this is the beginning of him evolving into a legitimate NBA caliber player instead of a two game anomaly.  We've seen a couple of flashes like this before, which just makes the ensuing regression more frustrating.

Miles Plumlee.  He just keeps stepping up to the challenge.  The Spurs aptly called "bigs" didn't deter Miles from mixing it up.  He finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks while continuing his attack mode mentality.  Plumlee also continues to impress by showing some nice touch and footwork.  Just please... for the love of all that is holy... stop calling him Plumd**.  Anything but Plumd**.  It's like keying a Lamborghini.  Don't ruin the greatness that is Miles Plumlee by besmirching his good name with that putrescence.

The Bad:

Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker were largely ineffective.  Tucker still made his normal presence felt on the defensive end, but a combined 6 points on 2-11 shooting just isn't getting it done.

18 turnovers are still too much.  The most grievous offender, Bledsoe, reeled himself in tonight and pitched a shutout, but his partner in crime (Gerald Green) picked up the slack.  Or maybe in this case dropped the slack...  In any case, Green had a serious mental lapse and committed an offensive foul, charging recklessly into the lane, with just 40 seconds left when he should have been holding the ball to kill time off the clock.

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The Ugly:

I'm still having a hard time getting over Pierre the Pelican.  The only thing I can think of even close to as terrifying is Albert and EJ saying Plumdog... Stop the madness.

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Final Thoughts:

The Suns can come home with their heads held high.  They just gave the two best teams in the Western Conference from last season every single bit they could handle.  Winning on the road in the NBA is tough, even for the best teams.  A 3-2 start, especially with the way they've played, is nothing to be ashamed of.

And what a great game.  I'm really enjoying watching this team play.

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