It was a storied rivalry. Maybe one of the most one-sided rivalries in sports history, but storied because... well, there’s been lots of stories on Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs matchups over the years.
This was not one of those deserving of a Jack McCallum book. Or a long editorial. Or even a puff piece.
But hey, this ended up being a kinda fun game, despite the awful basketball execution.
“Took us twenty four minutes to find a group that would play with the right energy,” coach Triano said after the game.
Mike James, T.J. Warren and Marquese Chriss keyed the second half run.
First, the Suns cut the Spurs lead to two late in the third. Then they tied the game with 4 minutes to go. They almost took the lead on a Josh Jackson leaner, but the shot clock had barely expired before he let it go.
And then the truly unexpected happened.
The Suns took their first lead with just under a minute to go on a Marquese Chriss breakaway dunk.
They kept the lead until Bryn Forbes hit a three with 21.5 to go, giving the Spurs 102-101 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Mike James missed a go-ahead three. Dudley missed at the buzzer. Game over.
Marquese Chriss had his best game in a long time: 15 points, 8 rebounds.
Mike James had 25 points.
T.J. Warren had 24 points.
The crowd burned a lot of active calories in that great second half. :)
Spurs: No Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard or Tony Parker.
Suns: No Devin Booker, Brandon Knight, Davon Reed or Alan Williams
Spurs: Brandon Paul, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray
Suns: T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler, Josh Jackson, Tyler Ulis
Despite sitting almost their entire starting lineup, the Spurs are still going to spur, aren't they?
At least on 80s night, the Suns got to wear their throwback jerseys. Those are hot.
On the opening possession, the Suns showed they weren’t ready by letting a Spurs errant jumper bounce in between two Suns (Chriss and Jackson), letting the Spurs retain possession and score the ball. Ugh.
When the super-important T.J. Warren picked up bad two fouls in the first four minutes... oy.
When the Suns started 0-4 with 4 turnovers on their first eight possessions, well, yeah, this wasn’t a good start.
The Suns were lucky to only be down 10-2 after five minutes. The Suns only two points were on a pair of JJ free throws after a generous foul call that was more a clean block than anything.
Remember, the Spurs are starting Forbes, Paul, Murray and Gay with LMA.
Then JJ got his second foul and Danuel House steps in alongside Troy Daniels and we got ourselves a game lol.
Two Spurs fell while dribbling the ball ON THE SAME POSSESSION and they still ended up with a three pointer to take a 19-9 lead.
Then it was 20-9 with less than 3 minutes left.
The Suns starting lineup scored 4 points in that opening quarter. FOUR. Not four per player. Not four for any single player. FOUR. TOTAL. One field goal made. Against 5 personal fouls and four turnovers.
Suns down 28-17 after one quarter.
At the quarter break, the Suns introduced a dozen Suns players from the 80s... and I’m sure at least a couple of them could have scored more in that opening quarter than any of the Suns starters did.
But hey at least the backups were trying to score. Mike James, Greg Monroe and Troy Daniels scored 19 points between them. Warren and Jackson did not return until there were 7 minutes left in the half.
The Suns had scored 25 points by then. Unfortunately that was an improvement.
When the starters returned, the Suns did not fare much better. When Dejounte Murray got to play volleyball with the offensive rebounds (4 on one possession) amid three Suns players, the crowd groaned in dumbfoundedness.
I have no idea how the Suns can show up to a home game after a night off with such little determination and focus.
Spurs 52, Suns 39 at half.
Leading scorer T.J. Warren has 5 points on 2-7 shooting at the half.
No Suns player has more than 1 assist. Starting point guard Ulis has 0. The Suns as a team have 4 assists on 15 made baskets.
The Spurs have 34 rebounds to the Suns 21 rebounds.
Maybe the second half will be dramatically different... ?
Just as bad a start. Tyson dribbled a rebound off his own foot, giving the Spurs another possession... and a score. On a foul.
I feel bad for the Spurs. This isn’t even as good as preseason competition for them. By tomorrow morning, Pop won’t even remember this game happened.
After getting down by 19, the Suns did momentarily find some life. T.J. Warren, Mike James and Marquese Chriss had a nice series of plays and the Suns pulled within two points just before the end of the quarter on a three by Troy Daniels. The crowd was excited, their roar deafening when Daniels buried that shot.
Then James tried just a little too hard, and Patty Mills made a couple of tough threes...
And it was back to 8 by the end of the quarter.
Warren and James each had 15 points after three, and Monroe had 10 rebounds.
Suns down 79-71 after three.
You’d hope the Suns would brush off Mills’ big shots and keep up their newfound momentum, but that didn’t actually happen.
Until it did.
Scroll up for more on how the game ended.