After the Suns got out to a quick 6-0 lead, Tony Parker asserted himself on offense to help the Spurs regain control with a 13-3 run of their own. Both teams settled into a rhythm at that point in what turned out to be an entertaining and well played quarter of competitive basketball. Tony Parker led the way with 10 points for the Spurs, while Marcin Gortat had seven points for the Suns. Score: 26-26.
The second quarter saw the Spurs trying to pull away and the Suns scrambling to keep up. The Suns vim and vivacity was tangible, but effort only goes so far. Michael Beasley continued his renascent play and scored 10 points in the quarter to keep the Suns close while the Spurs twice pushed their lead to seven. Neither team seemed very interested in playing much defense, which was reflected by gaudy shooting percentages from both teams. The pace was frenetic and the second quarter was a deluge of points as the Spurs outscored Phoenix 33-30. Halftime score: Spurs 59, Suns 56.
First half notable players:
Michael Beasley had 12 points, 4 rebounds and ZERO turnovers.
Jared Dudley had 12 points on 5-6 from the field and 2-3 from three point range.
Tony Parker scored 14 points on 6-7 shooting.
Stephen Jackson had 10 points and 4 rebounds with perfect shooting from the field and free throw line.
Jared Dudley was a catalyst for the Suns in the third quarter as the Suns sent a resounding message to the Spurs that they weren't going away. Both teams continued to lob salvos at each other and the Suns finished the period ahead in the haymakers department. Speaking of haymakers, Shannon Brown landed one on Manu Ginobili and was ejected from the game with a flagrant two. After the dust cleared the Suns went into the final period on top by one. Score: Suns 82, Spurs 81.
Too much Tony Parker. Parker ignited a 10-0 Spurs run that gave them a 96-88 lead with 5:41 remaining. The Suns couldn't stop the bleeding. Parker finished with 11 in the quarter and earned the official title of "Suns Killer" for the night. Michael Beasley finished a superb game with 11 of his own in the period as he tried valiantly to keep the Suns close. On the road. Against the Spurs. Even without Duncan a tall task. The Suns played well, but still fell. Final score: Spurs 108, Suns 99.
Player of the Game:
Tony Parker. Tony Parker. Tony Parker.
He went for 31 points, and nearly every one of them seemed to be impactful. Throw in the fact that he did it on 13-17 shooting while dishing seven assists and this was one of the better overall performances we've witnessed against the Suns this season.
Comments of the Game:
The Spurs honestly have so many role players around Manu and Parker right now.
They just pass well, pretty much do drive and kick like old Suns and shoot a lot of 3's. That's why they're winning so many games, they have good shooters, but in the playoffs they won't survive.
The air must be fouling Ginobili because I saw no contact.
This is a pretty fun game.
These are the ones I don't mind watching a losing season of.
I like how we are playing, but seriously guys, losing draft position at this juncture would be crazy foolish.
Lindsey Hunter: "This coaching thing is easy..."
Beasley's putting on his best Ancient Egyptian princess look.
That awkward moment when Shannon Brown leaving the game (being ejected) might actually help your team.
Parker is only 4 years older than Dragic, but this is his 12th season.
This is Goran's 5th. How crazy is that?
I'm digging that jump pass by Dragic.
First class ticket to turning the ball over.
There must have been a croissant at the top of the rim for Diaw to jump like that.
And the dead coach ball has run out of air.
No more bouncing. Get ready for a brutal 15 game stretch my friends.
The Suns maintained their recent intensity and improved play by keeping pace with a Spurs team that was 19-2 at home this season coming into the game. Duncan may have been out, but this was a pitfall game for the Suns and they acquitted themselves admirably.
The Suns have won with a more plodding style recently, but tonight showed the versatility to play at a more frenzied pace and stay in a game dominated by offense. Not only that, but they kept it entertaining in a season with plenty of forgettable performances.
Coincidence or not, Michael Beasley has been a startlingly different player since the coaching change. It may be time to experiment with a return to the starting lineup if this trend continues as he has been the team's best scorer, and at times the best player, over the last three games. 25 points (on 11-16 shooting) and six boards qualifies as outstanding.
Jared Dudley also lit it up. His 10-12 night was spectacular, but in a weird way sort of ho-hum as Beasley and Parker also turned in astounding performances. 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists is still a great game, though, even if he did get outshined.
Even though the Suns performed admirably, they allowed the Spurs to impose their pace and style on them. It can be advantageous to be malleable enough to compete in different types of games, but typically when you play to another team's strengths it doesn't promote beneficial results.
Shannon Brown's flagrant two on Manu Ginobili at the end of the third quarter. Was it the most violent or blatant flagrant foul? No. But at a pivotal point in the game that type of play is foolish. The excitement and energy of the game apparently got the best of Brown. Play with emotion, but don't let your emotions play with you.
The Suns played their second straight game against a very good team that was missing a star player. The first time they pulled it off. The second they ran out of gas.
The team has put on a brave face since the tumultuous coaching change, but tonight may have been the beginning of the end of that stage. The Suns upcoming schedule is parlous and unforgiving.
Continue to expect the Suns to play with a "no quit" attitude.
Just don't expect many more wins.
Remember Steve Nash's last game as a Phoenix Sun?
The Suns came in with a 33-32 record, less than 24 hours removed from being eliminated from playoff contention in a loss to the Utah Jazz.
Suddenly, we all knew we were seeing the last of Steve Nash on 3rd and Washington. And the last of most of those guys who took the court that night too.
Let's take a walk down memory lane.
Check out the recap and 194 awesome comments on Nash's last game.
Phoenix Suns Finish With A Thud, Squander Winning Record Against D-League Team
Phoenix Suns fans tried to show some real class tonight. The crowd chanted "WE WANT STEVE! WE WANT STEVE!" so loud at the 5-minute mark of the 4th quarter that when ESPN went to commercial, we all assumed Nash would come back in. He didn't. And the Suns promptly lost the lead. Finally, after another timeout at 3:57, Nash re-entered to raucous cheers. And then turned the ball over. And then was taken right back out of the game.
During that one minute of game time, the Suns went from a 6-point lead to a 7-point deficit. Just like that. The Spurs reacted to being dissed by going on a 13-0 run while the Suns were acting like it was prom night. Game over.
...No more Phoenix Suns basketball for five, almost six, months. In the meantime, we will likely be able to count actual news moments on one hand. Two, if we're lucky. That's no more than 10 days with actual bona-fide team-changing news out of about 180.
(In that same time-span, BSotS authors will likely post at least 400 stories, plus there should be at least 150 or so FanPosts. For 10 days of actual news. #lol)
But I digress. I hope you got a good look at the Suns roster tonight and made your peace with each. Cuz you're not likely to see more than half of them back next season.
And here the Spurs are doing it again, sitting Duncan and Popovich tonight.
The Suns get no respect. Is there any chance the Suns come out with the desire to fight back?
The Suns look to build on their momentum as the team finally appears to be playing up to the level of their talent under the new management. Despite the brio and vim from the new look Suns, dubiety still abounds that this may just be a "jolt" instead of a perdurable change. Tonight may evince whether this is truly the birth of a renascent Suns team rising back to prominence or simply the effects of the proverbial dead coach bounce.
I know I'm intrigued.
When: Saturday, January 26, 2013, 6:30 PM local time (8:30 EST)
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR
This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The teams last met at US Airways Center on April 25th in the last regular season game of the 2011-12 season. The Spurs reserves dispatched the Suns 110-106 as Gregg Popovich rested his star triumvirate.
It was somewhat fitting that Steve Nash's last game as a Sun was against the Spurs, who took great satisfaction in thwarting Phoenix's championship aspirations on multiple occasions during the Nash era.
San Antonio Spurs: 35-11
Points per game: 104.1 (3rd) Points allowed: 96.0 (9th)
Injuries: Tim Duncan (knee) and Gregg Popovich (flu) did not travel with the team to Dallas yesterday... which means they will both be rested for tonight.
The Spurs are coming off of a 113-107 win over Dallas in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates. Tony Parker led the way with 23 points and 10 assists.
The Spurs continue to steamroll at a familiar clip for a team that has won at least 50 games in 13 consecutive seasons (beginning after they won the NBA Championship in the lockout shortened 1998-99 season). The regular season has turned into a perfunctory process that exists only as an annual obstacle in the way of San Antonio's quest to reconcile recent postseason mishaps.
The Spurs have won seven straight and are pacing for 62 wins on the season, which would tie for the second most in franchise history. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who were both named as reserves to the Western Conference All-Star team, still do most of the heavy lifting, but the roster is deep and talented.
Phoenix Suns: 15-28
Points per game: 95.6 (18th) Points allowed: 99.4 (T-21st)
Injuries: Jermaine O'Neal (irregular heartbeat)
After a 2-13 stretch the Suns are now winners of two straight. A rare road victory (the Suns are now 4-17 on the road) over the Kings was followed up by a nationally televised triumph at home against the wounded Clippers. Even more bizarre, the Suns have won consecutive road games after losing 12 straight prior to that.
Lindsey Hunter gets to try his beginner's luck in a more difficult venue as the Suns encounter an adversary that has an uncanny knack for breaking the Suns spirit.
What To Watch For:
Lindsey Hunter: All eyes are still on the new guy. Until the novelty wears off Lindsey is going to be under a great deal of scrutiny.
Tim Duncan: Will Pop give his big man another night off figuring he can recruit an elderly couple from the stands capable of vanquishing the Suns? We've seen him rest players against the Suns (and other teams) for precautionary reasons (sometimes combined with the ulterior motive of insulting his opposition).
With a win, new Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter can tie Butch van Breda Kolff for 14th place in all-time Suns coaching victories with three. Next on the list would be Dick Van Arsdale with 14.
The Spurs have only one loss to a sub .500 team this year. They lost 95-88 at New Orleans on January 7th.
The Spurs 8.5 differential between ORtg (109.1) and DRtg (100.6) is the best since their last title in 2006-07 when they put up eerily similar numbers - 9.3 differential between ORtg (109.2) and DRtg (99.9).
2013 Lottery Watch
The Suns are currently in 6th place in the race for the #1 seed in the lottery. The two consecutive wins have put the Suns in risk of slipping all the way to 11th in the coming week.
Last night's big wins:
Cavaliers (12-32) beat Bucks 113-108 - Cavs have won 3 of 4.
Wizards (10-31) beat Timberwolves 114-101 - Wizards are 5-3 since John Wall's return.
!!!Congratulations!!! The Charlotte Bobcats (10-32) have taken over worst place!
Cavaliers (12-32) at Raptors (16-27)
Bulls (26-16) at Wizards (10-31)
Timberwolves (17-23) at Bobcats (10-32)
Kings (16-27) at Nuggets (26-18)
The Final Word(s):
Although most Suns fans relish every victory against the Spurs, I will attest with certitude that most Spurs fans don't reciprocate this feeling... mostly because they've owned our ass and beat us in damn near every meaningful game over the last decade. Tonight we take our revenge! Or not.
I have actually grown to respect the Spurs. From organization, to coach, to players they are what the Suns should be trying to emulate as they reconstruct this franchise from its current shambles. If both teams were still good I'd be emotionally invested in the outcome, like I was for so many of the games in this series in recent years, but it really just doesn't feel the same anymore. It's actually kind of awkward. Like when you and your girlfriend break up and your life falls apart and then you run into her and she's happier than you've ever seen her and you go home and crawl into the closet with the lights off and cry yourself to sleep (speaking purely metaphorically, not from personal experience). That kind of awkward.
I'll leave you with this from general Phil Sheridan, who was posted in Texas after the Civil War: "If I owned hell and Texas, I'd rent out Texas and live in hell."
At least general Sheridan would rather live here than Texas. Take that Spurs!