If not this, what needs to happen to end the conversation of the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs being a great rivalry? This has been one sided with some quality games, tonight's affair was one of those factors.
All game the Phoenix Suns (18-39) fought the surge of the San Antonio Spurs (45-13) for most of the game. Every time it seemed like they were out of it they got a few stops to keep themselves in the game.
That would have allowed the Suns to get back in the game, but a dismal second quarter showing was too much to overcome as they dropped their sixth straight against the Spurs and their ninth in eleven games so far in the month of February as a team.
The end result was another lopsided effort with the Suns losing 97-87.
First Half Review
Coming into the game there was hope against the leagues best team with their leading scorer and assist man Tony Parker out nursing an injury. Early on the Suns made it a dog fight forcing turnovers and playing quality defense. After the first quarter there was a feeling that they could steal one with the lethargic and disinterested Spurs playing on a back-to-back.
Then the second quarter started.
Kendall Marshall started the quarter, per normal rotations under interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. The problem was that Goran Dragic took the offense to the bench with him. For the first 3:23 of the second quarter the Suns were held scoreless as Spurs ran off a 14-0 run.
The first seven possessions of the second quarter consisted of three turnovers and four missed shots.
That same time window for the Spurs resulted in three makes, two trips to the free-throw line, one miss, and one turnover. Those are the pitfalls that have quelled the team all season as one quarter ends up as the death nail for the team, no matter the effort in the other three. As a team the Spurs did a good job of forcing seven turnovers that quarter disjointing the Suns offense. The lead ballooned to 14 points at the half.
Second Half Review
Until the first few minutes of the fourth quarter the Suns kept the game within striking distance of 12-16 points. They did not let the game get out of hand, but they were not playing at a level where you got the feeling another patented comeback was in the works.
The most revealing moment of the game came when Hunter subbed in Diante Garrett in place of Marshall as has been the norm through his 15 games as the head man. Garrett got on the court and played well with despite what the box score reads. He made plays for others and got into the paint off of the bounce. It was a fresh look compared to the known entity that is Dragic and Marshall.
Eventually the Spurs pulled away and took this game by despite the absence of their leader, playing on a back-to-back, and having nothing to get up for. That is what great teams do.
Goran Dragic finished with 11 assists, his fourth straight game with 10+ assists the longest stretch of his career
Shannon Brown was a DNP Coaches Decision, his fourth straight
The team scored under 90 points for the 15th time this season. Last time they had that many in a full season, the 2003-2004 season (23 total)