For the first time since the last milennium (1999), the Phoenix Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs by 20+ points, 106-85.
This was a Suns fan dream at US Airways Center. The Suns started slow but jumped out to a 15-point second quarter lead on the back of Ish Smith, and then a 22-point third quarter lead on the back of Gerald Green.
It's a good night when your best player can be a decoy, as Goran Dragic was on this night. Dragic was a +29 in his minutes, but had only 8 points, 5 assists and 4 turnovers in 28 minutes of play.
The Suns really pulled away in the second quarter with a 19-2 run saw them turn a 19-23 deficit into a 38-25 lead before San Antonio could stem the bleeding. That stemming was performed by none other than Manu Ginobili, who drew two offensive charge calls and made a couple of free throws at that point.
Ish Smith owned that second quarter though: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in that quarter alone.
"I'm like Ricky Bobby. I just wanna go fast." -- Ish Smith
It was the Suns night, folks!
Enjoy these. The Suns are now 33-21.
"They're a really fine team." -- Popovich, on the Suns after getting blown out
Don't go overboard, coach
The Spurs came out very cold, with two backcourt violations in the first five minutes of play. Once Channing Frye hit an open three, Spurs coach Popovich had seen enough and called a quick timeout. He replaced starter Corey Joseph with sparkplug Patty Mills to run the point. And Manu Ginobili to help the Spurs go small with Belinelli at the 3.
The Spurs weren't playing very crisp in this game. No surprise given it's their 9th straight road game. But they stayed close while the Suns missed free throws (4 misses) and field goal attempts (13 misses) by the bunch.
End of one: Spurs 23-19.
The Suns second unit, along with Dragic, came out with more fire and aggression. Dragic and Ish played the guard positions, with the Morrii and Channing Frye. This lineup is quick and scrappy, creating the kind of balance that the Suns get with Bledsoe and Dragic out there (remember those days?).
The Suns quickly took a 38-25 lead on a 19-2 run with everyone contributing in a big way while the Spurs went cold.
Finally for the Spurs, the Suns missed an open three and Tim Duncan made a nice move for a and-one to stop the bleeding.
Then Manu Ginobili happened, drawing two offensive fouls on Suns drives to the basket that were so egregious Ginobili will almost certainly be fined. But his tactics worked - the Suns were driven off their rhythm and the Spurs were able to stop the Suns runaway.
At the half, the Suns still led by 12 (47-35) but the Spurs were able to stop the run.
Big time player for that 28-12 second quarter?
Check out this stat line for Ish Smith: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2, steals and 2 blocks. IN THE SECOND QUARTER.
The third quarter showed that the Spurs weren't really dialed into this game. The built the lead to 22 in the first 6.5 minutes while the Spurs clanked jumper after jumper.
Popovich put in four reserves with Danny Green at that point - only halfway through the third - to try to get some energy out there. It only halfway worked.
Hornacek talked on Wednesday night about the Suns needing to develop a killer instinct, to keep building on leads, turning 8 points into 10 then 12 or 13. Twice against the Celtics, the Suns got lazy on defense and allowed an 8-point lead to drop to 4 instead of pushing it bigger.
Tonight, the Suns kept pushing until it was 22 point lead halfway through the third, to the point Popovich put in the deep, deep reserves. The presence of backups must have made the Suns take the foot off the pedal, as they lost focus and began to allow the lead to drop to 17.
Ish Smith came back to get spark back into the team, but the Suns went soft on defense and allowed the Spurs to get offensive rebounds and make open jumpers.
And Archie Goodwin came in, primarily because Leandro Barbosa was out of the lineup but who cares right?
This has to be the kind of game a coach loves. Dragic has been a decoy all night while Ish Smith has run the team to a huge lead over the Spurs.
The fourth quarter was all about trying to one-up each other at times, like when Aaron Baynes one-hand dunked over Markieff Morris and then Marcus returned the favor on Baynes two minutes later. BOOM.
But really my favorite part of the 4th quarter was Archie Goodwin. We hadn't seen him in a game in two months, since Leandro Barbosa was signed after Archie had lost his confidence/way.
Tonight we saw Archie's entire game: drive/finish, putback dunk, tight defense, bigtime block...and airballed wide open three. That kid still has a lot to learn, but he's a good one folks. A real good one.
Archie and Ish were joined by Alex Len, Slava Kravtsov and Dionte Christmas for the last 3 minutes of the game.