With all due respect, whoever says that Steve Kerr has made this team "better" is blind. Don't get me wrong, I do feel that we have the right pieces to be contenders.
We have a 2-Time MVP point guard who is still playing at a high level, an All Star Power Forward who is a scoring machine, a Center who is a proven champion and has magically turned back the clock to be his dominant self, Best sixth man, a deadly three point shooter. So...why can't we beat good teams?
I was thinking about this game throughout the day. Thinking about the importance of winning it and getting some momentum, getting a winning streak going so I could show up at work with a big smile on my face. Instead of having happy thoughts I find myself wanting to go to Phoenix to knock on Terry's door and tell him how much he sucks.
Earlier today I talked to J-Sun on the phone. I was asking him why he was so grumpy and why he had a bad feeling about this game. For me it was the opposite, I felt pretty good about this one, told him we were going to pull this out, told him to relax and enjoy the game.
J-Sun: As long as Terry Porter is our coach, don't ever pay attention to any advice I give you.
On to the game notes.
I want to say something to Doug Collins: Listen, we know about all the heart breaking loses, the drama, the suspensions, we know how close we were of reaching the NBA finals, we know that we used to run and that everything changed with Shaq. We know that. Please, stop bringing that up.
1st Half: The Suns came out firing, they were hungry and they wanted to get a comfortable lead like they usually do, the problem is, you have to play defense to do that. The Spurs were shooting lights out as well, they were scoring at will and were falling into the trap of playing at the Suns pace. Pop certainly didn't like that and called several timeouts even when they were up on the scoreboard. The first quarter ended and we were down by one but It felt differently, it felt like we had control of the game, we were playing at our pace and sooner or later we were going to make a run and that time SA was not going to keep up with us. Amar'e was playing well and got involved early in the game, Richardson made a couple of shots, everything was going as planned.
Interesting facts: We didn't actually take the lead running. Porter put Dudley, Lou, Barbosa, Barnes and Shaq on the floor going to him on the post several times. He was very effective and got Timmy in early foul trouble. Thanks to that we got the lead early in the second quarter while Nash rested but it didn't last long thanks to Manu Ginobili. Manu had been struggling coming into this game but we all know what happens here in Phx when an opposing player is in a slump. Manu attacked the basket in his awkward but effective way, getting to the foul line where he made 18-18 and finished with 30 points.
First half was very entertaining, the Suns finished the half tied thanks to a great shot by Steve Nash to end the 2nd quarter. They played flawless basketball with 0 turnovers and yet we were tied. I guess that tells you a lot about The Spurs. We shot 48% from the field while SA shot 55%. We made 24 points in the paint and also shot 13-16 from the free throw line. What else could we ask for? Oh yeah...Defense.
2nd Half Nightmare:
Grant Hill had a great 3rd Quarter, he was just on fire, driving to the basket, getting And1's, he later got the assignment to guard Parker and did a fairly good job on him. Amar'e continued to play well offensively knocking down jumpers...game was tied until..
Hack a Bowen: Porter, knowing how much his team sucks at closing quarters, had the smartest idea...to intentionally foul Bruce Bowen when the game was tied. Is this how much you trust your team in getting a stop?
Seriously, this was just stupid. Bowen made 3 out of 4 shots while we didn't even score. This is where the game was lost in my opinion. Porter said during the break that he put Bowen on the line since he was shooting 28%. How many times has Bowen gone to the line this year? 3 times, 4 times, less?
Turnovers at the wrong time: we only had 8 turnovers but that's all the Spurs needed to make a run. It seemed that every time they tried to give Shaq the ball on the post they turned it over. Stop force-feeding Shaq. Just Stop.
Final Notes: It all comes down to execution under pressure and the Suns once again showed us that they are unable to win close games against SA. Manu had 30, Parker had 26 and Duncan 20. There's no way we win if these guys score that many points on us...no way. We countered with Nash having 18 assists and 16 points, Amar'e going for 28 and Grant with 20.
These stats show you that you can't beat a good team without good defense. In a way Steve Kerr is right by wanting to turn the Suns into the Spurs. Defense is what brings championships. It's a proven fact.
Like I said, we have the pieces to be a great team, a lot of talent. Kerr has done the best he can to give us a chance (for better or worse) it's too bad he didn't try a little harder to get a better coach.