San Antonio Spurs 108, Phoenix Suns 101 -- Slop-a-Suns

PHOENIX – Jeff Hornacek will probably say it in a few minutes during the postgame presser. The Phoenix Suns can’t think they can roll out of bed, onto the court and beat anyone. And when turnovers are involved against a Western Conference dynasty, well, call it a loss — even if that team is without its MVP.

Manu Ginobili won’t be buried. If he was thinking about retirement this summer, he showed why he received the loudest boos in U.S. Airways Center en route to a 108-99 San Antonio Spurs win on Wednesday. The Suns’ nemesis put in 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals off the bench to make up for the absence of point guard Tony Parker. Tim Duncan added 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, and the turnover-prone Suns floundered down the stretch of a close game.

Channing Frye hit all six field goals, including three triples, in the first quarter to get the Suns off to a roaring hot start. He had 15 after one, didn’t score in the second quarter and finished with 22.

The point guard tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic had one of their worst games yet, hitting 12-of-33 shots for 33 points and 11 dimes. Aside from that duo, Frye and a solid effort from Miles Plumlee, there wasn’t much cleanliness with Phoenix’s play.

It wasn’t a cleanly played game by either side. Phoenix coughed it up 17 times through three quarters and San Antonio added 15 turnovers of its own. By the end of the night, Gregg Popovich’s squad scored 25 points on 19 turnovers, making Phoenix’s 20 points off 18 Spurs miscues all for naught.

On to Jeff’s pregame questions.

Does Goran Dragic make a difference?

Though he struggled at times to harness and corral the second unit, Dragic didn’t leave the court in the second half. It said a bit about Hornacek’s belief in Dragic and the importance of picking up a win against the Spurs.

As of now, the Suns ain’t in the tanking race one bit.

Dragic wasn’t the only backcourt member to make a big difference. Archie Goodwin earned himself extended run in the first half and led all bench players with 12:25 played. In that time, he scored seven points and especially took advantage off his two steals.

How do the Suns handle a brighter spotlight?

Like any other game. The Suns looked steady as usual, building a big lead with the starting unit before the first substitutions led to questionable defensive efforts. Suddenly, Patty Mills was burying two threes as Eric Bledsoe reverted back to his sleep Isaiah Thomas defense and went away from his exceptional Stephen Curry defense. The Morris twins struggled with help defense, couldn’t keep Kawhi Leonard and Matt Bonner covered atop the arc and took a questionable shot each. Nothing out of the ordinary, really.

Phoenix kept scoring even when the defense slipped. A 10-point first quarter lead turned into a 59-58 deficit at halftime even though the Suns were shooting 57.5 percent overall.

Do the Suns control the boards?

The Spurs, and especially Tim Duncan, did his damage on the offensive glass, but Miles Plumlee didn’t necessarily get outworked. Duncan struggled with turnovers, in the first half getting ripped by getting too tricky with his ballhandling around the second-year big man.

Plumlee took an offensive board of his own over the Spurs to give Phoenix a 95-93 lead – its first of the second half – with five minutes to play. After that, it was only sloppy offense and more mistakes for the Suns.

Plumlee finished with 13 points, 13 boards and two blocks. And in the end, the Suns lost the rebounding differential by four and crashed the offensive glass with near equal success, which in the end mattered little.

  • Scott

    So far as I can see, the Suns did what they could. The Spurs execute so well, they don’t really need Parker in order to beat the Suns.

    In the future, when Goodwin and Len get going, the Suns will probably beat the Spurs. But for now, in year one of the rebuild from the ashes of the Suns under Blanks, the Spurs own the Suns.

  • hawki

    I thought Horny should have rested Dragic for a few minutes at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

  • vtsunrise

    Disappointing, but a young team that’s still improving. We’ll get ya next time, SAS-holes.

  • vtsunrise

    On the bright side, and the big picture, we’re looking at a seismic shift in relative quality in the coming years. Suns on the rise with a well-coached young squad vs the aging Spurs Timmy (37) and Janosebleed (36) and young Parker (a mere 31).

    Yes, Poppy will still be around to bring out the best from the rest from South TexASS.

    But I do believe the Suns will be digging their own spurs into the black-clad cowboys before you know it. Pass the beans, will ya? (belch!)


    who are the top 8 current suns players and why?..i have my list ..would love to see yours.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Dragic, Bledsoe, Frye, Plumlee, Tucker … big gap … Morris, Morris and Green. Would like to put Goodwin in there. Can I make the Morri one?

  • JK

    Aside from a few good plays created by the point guards for them, the Morris brothers looked absolutely terrible out there. Tucker had a pretty awful game too if you ask me. Wasn’t he supposed to be guarding Ginobili? WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU ON THOSE OPEN LOOKS?!

    Bledsoe looked winded from his workload while Dragic kept fighting hard until the finish. Beginning to question whether there’s a problem with Bledsoe’s conditioning or his work ethic. I think it’s starting to become clear that Dragic is the better point guard as of right now.

    Given the matchup, I thought Plumlee played great. Relatively error free and had a lot of fight in him. Goodwin played very nicely as well, and I’m hoping he continues to see more minutes as the season goes on. As for Green, he seemed to fly under the radar for most of the game and wasn’t much of a factor.

    I love the competitiveness of this team, but tonight showed a lot. If we can’t even beat the Spurs without Tony Parker, imagine how bad this game could’ve ended up with him on the court. If we make the playoffs this year, it would be an amazing feat, but now is not the right time to make a playoff push. Time to pull the plug on this thing ASAP. We had a nice run.

  • foreveris2long

    This is what happens to jump shooting teams periodically. Without good post play you are going to have cold shooting games like last night. It was just a good lesson on why you need good play in the paint even with good guards if you want sustained success. Last night was an example of why I do not want a quick fix for guys like Love or Melo just to compete in the playoffs. We need patience for championship success.

  • VK1

    foreveris2long what does “We need patience for championship success.” mean? Make the playoffs this year, get the 19th pick in the draft. Next year, will start season 2 of “Ignite the Future” maybe bring back most of the guys, sign and trade Bledsoe or trade the Dragon…who knows.

    I’m not going to lie, I have no clue what the answer is now. At the beginning of the season I accepted the fact we were going to suck and lets just focus on a top three pick. Now these young Suns are playing great and we are talking about playoffs. When is Paul George a Free Agent :) Go Suns!

  • Foreveris2long

    Vk1 thanks for asking. When I said patience for championship success I was attempting to differentiate between playoff success and championship success. I do not want the Siuns to make a move or two just to secure a playoff spot. I would rather any moves they make will be for young promising stars who can become an exceptional small forward or power forward in the next two years to help solidify a championship run.