The Phoenix Suns stunned the San Antonio Spurs in overtime 105-101 Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
“Tonight was a great team effort against the best team in the NBA on their court,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “For us, we’re obviously not in the playoff run, but it’s about trying to be a better team. Games like these are what build character and put us in the right direction.”
After a hail mary full-court pass from O’Neal, Wesley Johnson hit a clutch buzzer-beater from 3-pointer in the fourth to send the game into overtime tied at 100. O’Neal seized control with 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Suns past a Spurs team that had won 18-straight home games. The Spurs home record currently stands at 22-3. Goran Dragic followed with 13 points and 13 assists. Luis Scola finished with 15 points and Marcus Morris contributed 11 points. The Suns won their previous overtime game on Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves 84-83.
Phoenix finished the game shooting 67 percent from the free-throw line, 46 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-pointer. The Suns also ended with 26 assists, four blocks, 14 fast break points, 49 rebounds, four steals and 15 turnovers.
The Spurs, in a losing effort vs. a team that was previously 6-24 on the road, ended the game shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line, 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-pointer. San Antonio finished with 24 assists, two blocks, 20 fast break points, 44 rebounds, nine steals and 17 turnovers.
In spite of his fiery first quarter, Dragic’s nine points and seven assists were not enough courtesy of a last-second 3-point jumper from Manu Ginobili. Nonetheless, both teams shot exceptionally well from the field. The Spurs made 59 percent of their attempts, while the Suns trailed closely behind at 58 percent. The two noteworthy discrepancies between these two teams lied with their 3-point shooting and fast break points. Unlike the Suns big goose egg, the Spurs made 60 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. The Spurs also accounted for 10 fast break points compared to the Suns two. San Antonio snatched a slender 27-25 first quarter lead over Phoenix.
By halftime, the Spurs extended their lead to 52-45. Phoenix fell due to a combination of botched shot opportunities. As San Antonio only slightly decreased to 55 percent from the first, Phoenix’s field goal conversions diminished to 48 percent. The Suns likewise did a poor job from the free-throw line upon converting just 3-8 in the second period. The Spurs, conversely, made 79 percent of their foul shots. Although San Antonio did not bury Phoenix while shooting 43 percent from 3-pointer, Phoenix dug themselves into a hole after missing all five of their attempts. Regardless, Dragic added to his game-high stats with 11 points and nine assists entering the second half.
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan controlled the tempo in the third, establishing a 77-67 lead. Heading into the final quarter, Parker recorded 17 points and six assists. Duncan added 15 points and eight rebounds. The Suns dissimilarly still had issues shooting the ball. Phoenix finished the third period shooting 57 percent from the foul line, 44 percent from the field and 14 percent from 3-pointer.
The fourth quarter came down to the wire. Phoenix was able to bring the game within two points with under a minute to go in the final quarter. Duncan responded by sinking a perimeter jump shot to take a 99-95 lead with 11 seconds remaining. After quick a Dragic jump shot, Marcus Morris followed up with a foul against Ginobili with three seconds left. Despite sinking his first attempt, Ginobili’s subsequent miss fell into the hands of O’Neal. With a prayer of a pass cross court from O’Neal, Johnson made a contested 3-pointer to send the game into overtime with the score at 100 apiece.
Even though overtime was a low-scoring affair, the Suns maintained control of the ball for the greater portion of the five-minute period. P.J. Tucker was able to give Phoenix a four-point cushion after making both free throws with four seconds to spare. With three seconds to go, the Suns ultimately put the dagger in the Spurs after a Marcus Morris steal from Duncan.
“I think they missed some shots they normally make, so defensively we did some things great that worked great for us,” Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said.
In the midst of a Spurs disappointing defeat, Parker finished the game with 22 points and eight assists while Duncan ended with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard and DeJuan Blair each contributed 15 points in the loss.
“Overall we made a lot of mental errors,” Popovich said. “Especially on that last play on the free throw line when Johnson went all the way down the court and he wasn’t picked up. That cost us the game.”