Supernova Series: Dragic goes big, Spurs go home


Most Suns fans, especially those who have followed the team closely at any time since the mid-nineties, have a special hatred for the San Antonio Spurs. This hatred is not unwarranted. In the 15 seasons from 1996 to 2010, the Spurs eliminated the Suns from the playoffs six different times. In that span, San Antonio won 4 NBA titles. Phoenix, for all its talent and potential, never made the NBA Finals. In NBA circles, it’s generally accepted that Suns’ fandom is partly defined by an intense dislike for the Spurs. But until the 2009-10 NBA season, this vitriolic rivalry, wasn’t much of a rivalry at all. It was a one-sided affair like the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals or the New York Yankees and any pre-2004 Boston Red Sox team. But that all changed when a pasty left-handed point guard of no particular repute drove a stake into the undead monster that was the Spurs and forced NBA fans everywhere to find Slovenia on the map.

The Suns were on an unexpected roll that year. Mike D’Antoni, Shawn Marion, and Shaquille O’Neal had all left the team over the previous two seasons. But Coach Alvin Gentry and Steve Nash had comfortably steered the Suns into the playoffs. In the first round, they had bested the Portland Trail Blazers in six games for their first playoff series win in three years. Their victory celebration was stunted however with the realization that the Spurs were next on the docket.

Surprisingly, the Suns took care of business at home, winning Games 1 and 2, both of which were close contests. Trailing by a point heading into the fourth quarter of Game 3, Phoenix was in serious danger of handing series momentum over to the Spurs. Enter the Dragon. With the Suns trailing and Steve Nash getting a breather on the bench, Dragic’s job was simple: keep the game close while Two Time and his glitchy back prepared for the home stretch. Goran ensured Nash wasn’t needed. By the time Nash came into the game with just 3 minutes left, the game was basically decided as Dragic had almost single handedly put the Suns up by 11 points.

From out of nowhere, Goran had exploded for 23 points in the fourth. His speed and quirky left-handed game made him look like a love child between Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. The Spurs had absolutely no answer for him. Nobody could stay in front of this Slovenian blur. He was too quick for Tony Parker and George Hill. When he got into the lane, his series of crafty pivots fooled Tim Duncan more than once. He hit all four of his threes in the quarter, including a bomb with five seconds left in the game which put an exclamation point on his incredible performance. Here are some highlights.

I don’t want to engage in too much hyperbole, but at the time Dragic’s 23-point fourth quarter was the most dominate final frame I’d seen since LeBron single-handedly took apart the Pistons in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. His performance came out of nowhere, and spurred the Suns to a four-game sweep of San Antonio, something I’d never before thought possible. That quarter is one of the many reasons the Suns believed Dragic could take the point guard reigns when Steve Nash finally departed two years later. It was an incredible flash that still resonates with Suns fans after all this. It was a supernova, and because it helped take down the mighty Spurs, it is by far my favorite Suns’ memory.

Tags: Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns San Antonio Spurs Supernova Series

  • Roger

    An Epic 4th quarter for Suns and Dragic, wow. Will never forget his career performance.

  • Scott

    Hopefully, if Bledsoe or Goodwin can be the other threat at guard, we could see the return of this type of Dragon.

  • Chad

    His last half of the year was pretty good ! I think he’s only getting better.

  • Azbballfan

    One of the best Suns moments ever

    Now lets see what he can do with some good players around him

    He already gave us 14 & 7

    And 18 and 9 after the Alll star break

    His future is bright

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ John…..from previous article

    Always wondered how good that Iowa team would have been if Hawkins had not been barred from basketball.
    They already had Don Nelson, who was a 2 time All-America & he wasn’t near as good as The Hawk.
    Without college coaching, Hawkins was never as fundamentally sound as he otherwise would have been.

    also, imo, Charles Barkley was the Greatest Suns Player of All-Time.

    Dragic’s 4th qtr performance vs the spurs was mind boggling….as good a quarter of basketball as any Suns player ever had.

  • KidBuxton

    I love Dragon but I think that 1 million bonus if he makes an all star game is safe in Sarvers pocket!

  • Scott

    From ESPN, ranking the uniforms around the league, and ranking the new unis of the Suns at #11:

    “This brand-new uni set, unveiled just a few days before the Power Rankings went live, will need to log some time on the court before we can fully evaluate it, but the early indications are promising. The whole package feels like a very tasteful updating of the Suns’ 1990s look, and the orange gradient on the home lettering looks particularly sharp. Even the sleeved alternate works. One serious fly in the ointment, though: the wraparound **butt striping** on the shorts.”

    Those darn butt stripes!

  • Mel.

    … that performance was absolutely unreal. Dragic looked more like a NBA JAM character than a bench mobber, and the Spurs never came close to recovering from that quarter.