Suns 112, Spurs 101 — Clutch ‘D’ suffocates Spurs

Posted by on April 7th, 11:26 pm

Amare Stoudemire had another huge night as the Suns took a crucial game from the Spurs at home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Amare Stoudemire had another huge night as the Suns took a crucial game from the Spurs at home. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — It’s hard to put into words how important this one was for the Suns.

It was crucial to win the first game of a gauntlet season-ending stretch. Crucial to win without Robin Lopez. And crucial to contain Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

The Suns did it all Wednesday night and played some of their best defense all year en route to a 112-101 win over the San Antonio Spurs, taking the season series for the second time in the last three seasons in the process.

“It was a total team effort,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “At some stage, everyone contributed.”

The Suns outplayed the Spurs on defense (it’s really weird to say that) and forced them to make mistakes. The Spurs committed 19 turnovers for 26 Suns points. This is clearly not the Spurs team that won four NBA championships.

“We really wanted this game tonight and it showed on the defensive end,” Suns guard Jason Richardson said after the game.

With 1:23 to go in the first half, the Suns flipped the switch on defense. In that span, the defense sparked an 11-2 run to give the Suns a nice cushion, 61-52 at the break.

“Defensively, we have to play at that level,” Suns forward Jared Dudley said after the game.

After a late lapse in which the Spurs cut a 14-point second-half lead to five early in the fourth, the defense took the win to the bank in a crucial fourth-quarter stretch. With just under seven minutes to play, Suns forward Jared Dudley drew a crucial charge to spark an 11-2 Suns run, seven of which were scored by Goran Dragic, who played so well in the fourth the Suns never brought back Steve Nash.

Grant Hill, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, put an exclamation point on the win with a fast-break monster dunk off a Dragic steal to cap a 19-7 run and put the Suns up 109-92 with 3:54 remaining.

“We amped up our defensive intensity and Goran did a great job out there getting some steals,” Suns forward Amare Stoudemire said. “Those led to some easy baskets.”

Limiting Duncan and Ginobili proved most key, especially with the way Ginobili has played lately. Ginobili finished with just 10 points and four assists. Duncan collected an uncharacteristic 14 points and seven rebounds.

“Our guys did a really good job at containing Ginobili,” Gentry said. “We tried to limit Tim’s touches as much as we could.”

But it wasn’t ALL clutch defense that won the game, as evidenced by the 101 points allowed. The Suns’ starters put on an offensive clinic against the Spurs.

Stoudemire had another huge night (surprise!), scoring 29 points and pulling in eight rebounds. Richardson added 20 points and Steve Nash gave a vintage performance, running circles around the Spurs for much of the game (particularly when guarded by D-League callup Garrett Temple. Nominate that for mismatch of the season).

Nash tallied 18 points and 12 assists, but what was more impressive was how he looked physically. Getting a few days off to rest his back clearly did a lot of good, and Nash was able to be the playmaker that he is at full strength.

So the Suns did exactly what they needed to do. To a “T.” The bad part of it all (and it’s strange to say that there was something bad about a win over the Spurs)?  It changed nothing.

The Mavericks won and the Nuggets won Wednesday as well, and a three-way tie remained for second in the Western Conference. Only Utah, who lost 113-96 to the Rockets Wednesday, fell back half a game. Technically, the Suns are in fourth place, as the Nuggets and Mavericks hold tiebreakers over the Suns because they are division leaders.

“It doesn’t do anything for us,” Gentry joked after the game. “I don’t think there’s anything whatsoever that’s been decided other than the Lakers and the No. 1 seed.”

Gentry stressed, as he has a lot recently, that he still feels that his team controls its own destiny. He further added that he hasn’t been paying too much attention to what other teams do on each night because he is focused on the Suns.

“If we continue to take care of business and do what we’re supposed to do, we won’t have to watch the scoreboard or ask anybody for help,” Gentry said.

The win Wednesday made the Suns 20-5 since the All-Star break, still the best mark in the NBA over that stretch. But more than that, it solidified their standing as the league’s hottest team because they beat one of the other hottest teams. The Spurs entered the game on a four-game winning streak.

Maybe more than anything though, the Suns showed that they can win without Robin Lopez. There’s no telling for sure if that would prove true over a seven-game series, but a win over a team with a good big man like Duncan is a very good indication that the Suns have what it takes to get by without him.

Gentry said before the game that there is no timetable for Lopez’s return. But the efforts of Channing Frye (12 points, five rebounds off the bench) and Stoudemire proved enough to fill the gap with Lopez out.

Now with four games remaining against Oklahoma City, Houston, Denver and Utah, the Suns have to stay focused and bring the same kind of energy on both ends of the floor every night.

“Playing the Spurs is always a tough game, especially down the stretch when every team is fighting for playoff standing,” Stoudemire said. “The way we played tonight was phenomenal. We just have to keep it going.”

And 1

With the win, the Suns became the only NBA team to record 30 or more home wins in five of the last six seasons. The Spurs could match the feat if they win their final three home games. … The Suns scored 110 or more points in all three games against the Spurs this season. That marks the first time Phoenix has scored that many points against San Antonio in three consecutive regulation games since a stretch from April 11, 1987, to Feb. 18, 1988. …The Suns managed to win despite yielding 20 offensive rebounds and losing the second-chance points battle 25-10.

Tyler Lockman

Tags: Amare Stoudemire · Defense · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Recap · San Antonio Spurs

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Phillip Hernandez // Apr 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    SuNs aRe oN a Savage Rampage!! Watch ouT For My Phoenix Suns iN The Playoffs… No Team iS Guna Want 2 Play These SuNs.. I THink The Suns aRe More Resilient oN Defense When TheY Play Better Teams! The Phoenix Suns Can Adjust To Different Teams Now That Makes Them More Dangerous Than Ever!!!!!!!!!

  • 2 Artur Mascarenhas // Apr 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    HUGE HUGE HUGE win.

    Its huge to keep the momentum going as we beat our main rival in the last years.

    Its huge to make the team work well without RoLo.

    Its HUGE to have home court advantage, specially against Utah or Denver.

    I still think we can go 3-1 on this last run and climb up to #3 seed.

  • 3 Josh // Apr 8, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Still nervous about a playoff series without Lopez.. Plus I think we need to remember that the Spurs were playing an away-away back to back, which practically all teams (especially the older crews like the spurs) really seem to struggle with. Sorry to be Mr. Johnny Raincloud, but I think we need to be a little more cautious with our optimism

  • 4 Andy // Apr 8, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Every time I hear quotes from Stoudemire this season he sounds so much more articulate and mature than he has in the past. His ego seems much more balanced as well.

    I'd be happy signing him to a max contract…there's no one else in the league who is a better fit for the Suns at his position.

  • 5 fodeep.com » Blog Archive » Suns Defeat Spurs 112-101, Win Season Series. Feels Good. // Apr 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    [...] I love beating the Spurs. It just feels good. Like watching a baby smile or seeing a beautiful sunset. It makes you believe everything is alright in this crazy mixed up world of ours. The defensive intensity was high even without Robin Lopez in the lineup. Its hard to believe we beat the Spurs with defense. From valleyofthesuns.com; [...]

  • 6 fodeep.com » Blog Archive » Suns Defeat Spurs 112-101, Win Season Series. Feels Good. // Apr 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    [...] I love beating the Spurs. It just feels good. Like watching a baby smile or seeing a beautiful sunset. It makes you believe everything is alright in this crazy mixed up world of ours. The defensive intensity was high even without Robin Lopez in the lineup. Its hard to believe we beat the Spurs with defense. From valleyofthesuns.com; [...]

  • 7 justin // Apr 8, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    micheal is there any good news on robin at all?? im getting worried!

  • 8 Michael Schwartz // Apr 9, 2010 at 4:34 am

    Still no news. And as they say, no news is good news, right? I'm worried as well, though …….

  • 9 Preview: Phoenix Suns (51-27) at Oklahoma City Thunder (48-30)| Valley of the Suns // Apr 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    [...] The Suns proved Wednesday that they have what it takes to stop the likes of Manu Ginobli and the Spurs with a convincing 112-101 win. [...]

  • 10 Thunder 96, Suns 91 -- Durant and Thunder fend off Suns| Valley of the Suns // Apr 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    [...] right, 12 points in 12 minutes of action for the NBA’s most efficient offense. One game after pasting 112 points on a stingy San Antonio defense, the Suns settled for jump shot after jump shot and never got into [...]

  • 11 The Phoenix Suns' secret weapon| Valley of the Suns // Apr 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    [...] example, when Goran Dragic was going well in an April win over the Spurs, Gentry kept the two-time MVP himself on the bench. The TV cameras [...]

  • 12 Phoenix Suns-San Antonio Spurs: Season series in review| Valley of the Suns // Apr 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    [...] The Suns had so much to play for with the Western Conference playoff race still undecided, and they put the clamps on Duncan and the Spurs, while riding the 29-point performance from [...]

  • 13 Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs -- Matchup breakdown| Valley of the Suns // May 1, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    [...] This matchup will most likely determine the outcome of the series, and luckily for the Suns, STAT has always been locked in against Duncan and company. This season has been no exception, as he’s exploded for 32.7 points per game against San Antonio, including a 41-point, 12-rebound game in a losing effort. [...]

Leave a Comment