Spurs go up 2-0 on Suns

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005


  Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash, left, and San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili scramble for a loose ball during the third quarter Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at America West Arena in Phoenix in game two of the Western Conference Finals. AP Photo/Matt York

Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash, left, and San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili scramble for a loose ball during the third quarter Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at America West Arena in Phoenix in game two of the Western Conference Finals.

AP Photo/Matt York

PHOENIX — As postseason regulars, not much fazes the San Antonio Spurs. Certainly not fourth-quarter deficits against the less-experienced Phoenix Suns.

With Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili making key baskets in the final 2:33, and Tim Duncan scoring 25 of his 30 points in the second half, the Spurs again caught the Suns at the end to win Game 2 of the Western Conference finals 111-108 Tuesday night and take a commanding 2-0 series lead.

How big is it? No NBA team has won Games 1 and 2 of a seven-game series on the road this deep in the playoffs and failed to advance. And the Spurs, who are headed to San Antonio for the next two games starting Saturday, are the league's best home team.

''We just can't be satisfied,'' Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. ''We are confident, but we know Phoenix is a good team. They are proud and they are going to play like they have nothing to lose. We have to be careful.''

The way things have gone so far, San Antonio has a pretty good margin for error.

The Spurs went from an 11-point lead to trailing by six going into the fourth quarter of Game 1 and came away winners. This time, they let a 13-point advantage turn into an 85-80 deficit going into the final period and got away with it thanks to the great play of their two-time MVP, a guy nicknamed ''Big Shot Bob'' and an aggressive Argentine.

Duncan started the rally by scoring 10 of San Antonio's first 12, helping pulling the Spurs within 100-99. Then, coming out of a timeout following a go-ahead 3-pointer by Phoenix's Steve Nash, Horry nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing to put San Antonio ahead. It was the kind of shot he's hit so often in the playoffs en route to winning five championships with Houston and Los Angeles.

''He takes big shots and he makes big shots,'' Duncan said. ''I don't think there's a person in that locker room that disputes the shots he takes.''

Ginobili took it from there, going behind his back to beat Shawn Marion on a reverse layup, then making a long jumper on the next possession to put the Spurs up 108-102. Although the game went down to the buzzer — in part because Horry and Ginobili each missed free throws in the final 10.7 seconds — the burst by Ginobili and Horry settled this game and, perhaps, this series.

''It's not even spoken about, it's understood,'' Horry said of San Antonio's poise in the closing minutes. ''With a veteran team like that, the guys know what's at hand. There's no need to say anything.''

The Suns didn't fold down the stretch. They were simply outplayed.

''They've all been there before and our guys are pretty new to this,'' said Phoenix's Steve Nash, who had 29 points and 15 assists. ''I think it shows not in necessarily the lack of production from our guys, but the super production from their guys. They've been just phenomenal in the fourth quarter.''

Nash had Phoenix's last-gasp hope. After Ginobili made one of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left, he took the inbounds pass and raced up the court, getting a step past Parker but was picked up by defensive ace Bruce Bowen. Still on the run, he threw up a 3-pointer that was on line but short, hitting the front rim, sealing Phoenix's first consecutive losses since April 8-9.

Suns coach Mike D'Antoni grimaced and Nash walked off blank-faced and spent from playing 46 minutes, comforted in the arms of teammate Jake Voskuhl.

''I just tried to stay in front of him,'' Parker said.

The Spurs are 43-4 in San Antonio, with five straight wins in the playoffs. The only solace for the Suns is that they won the most road games in the NBA this season and they might have third-leading scorer Joe Johnson back on Saturday.

''It's never easy playing the Spurs, but now that we're down we have to go back to the drawing board and figure something out,'' said Amare Stoudemire, who had 37 points and eight rebounds.

Ginobili scored 26 points and Parker had 24 and five assists. Nazr Mohammed had 11, and Horry scored 10, with three 3-pointers.

Nash became the first player to have four straight playoff games with 25 points and 10 assists, breaking a tie with Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan.

Although Quentin Richardson had 18 points and three 3-pointers, matching his total for the last four games, and Marion got a little bit back on track by scoring 11 points, the Suns were driven by Nash and Stoudemire. They powered runs of 13-0, 11-0 and 10-0, each taking Phoenix from behind to ahead.

Duncan opened 1-of-7 in the first half, with just five points and three fouls, one coming with 1.2 seconds left in the second quarter. He seemed more out of whack than struggling from the sprained left ankle that caused him to be listed as probable for the opener, then had to be soaked in a whirlpool at halftime of Game 1.

He scored 11 points in the third quarter, then opened the fourth with a hook, two free throws, a putback of Parker's miss, a dunk and a long jumper.

He hit two foul shots that made it 100-97, but Nash answered with a behind-the-back pass that set Stoudemire up for a layup, then a 3-pointer that gave Phoenix its last lead, 102-100.

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