The Suns sent a message early with an electric energy level, but the Spurs sent one late by closing out the game and making Phoenix look more like the team that ran out of gas after its second game in two nights...
The Suns controlled the tip and it took Gerald Green all of seven seconds to draw first blood with a driving layup. The majority of the first quarter continued that theme.
After the Spurs took a 9-7 lead Phoenix erupted for a 28-5 run incited by catalysts Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green. The Spurs looked like they were stuck in quicksand and the Suns were nearly giving me vertigo from the way they were running circles around their opponents. It was easy to discern that the Suns plan was to play frenetically and they were executing that plan like a team possessed.
I would have to imagine the Spurs fans in attendance were stunned because I know I was... 28-5 runs tend to have that effect.
Despite being staggered the Spurs managed to regain their composure enough to close on a 7-0 run of their own and pull to within 37-24 to end the first quarter. The Spurs escaped the first quarter in better shape than they could have been and appeared poised to take advantage of their good fortune. In typical Spurs fashion, the Spurs did Spurs things until suddenly the Suns were calling a timeout to stop their own bleeding as their bloated lead had been whittled down to single digits (41-32).
Any night the Suns play it's a pretty safe bet to save one of those SportsCenter top 10 spots for Gerald Green's amazing antics. Tonight's double pump dump was thrown down with 1:05 to go in the second quarter. Danny Green was doing his best to not be outgreened by carrying his reeling squad and keeping them within striking distance. He poured in 11 in the second quarter and 19 in the half.
There was some serious Green on Green action going on here.
Game time decision Tony Parker managed just 4 points on 2-7 shooting in the half.
And there was Eric Bledsoe. Sometimes he is scary fast. He drew a breakaway foul when he jumped a pass lane with Patty Mills barely being able to do anything but instinctually flail after him as he blew past. Eric had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in the first half.
San Antonio showed early in the third quarter that they weren't going anywhere. If the Suns wanted this they were going to have to earn it.
That Danny Green guy (the lesser Green) managed to knock down a four point play early in the third... It was his fifth three and gave him 23 points, one below his season high, with plenty of basketball left to play.
Gerald returned fire with a step back three of his own and then got to the free throw line to push the Suns back up by 11 (72-61) after a Spurs surge cut their lead to six. The Spurs just kept pushing, though, and Green (Danny) hit another three a few moments later to pull San Antonio back within four (72-68).
The Greens were hoisting it up without compunction.
Amidst the Greenfest Tony Parker, who had been conspicuously quiet in the first half, was able to pour in 14 points of his own in the first six minutes of the period.
That Spurs crowd that was stunned earlier was now really, really loud.
Marco Belinelli hit a jumper with 2:45 left in the third and the Spurs had climbed all the way back up the mountain. They now led the Suns 79-78. The final tally on the carnage in the third quarter was 37-19 in favor of the bad guys. Right now the Suns were on the wrong side of a game of huge swings.
Luckily, the Spurs momentum didn't carry over from the third quarter to the fourth and the Suns were able to regain their footing. Markieff Morris got into the flow of the game and scored six straight for Phoenix as they briefly took back the lead. Things ping-ponged around for a few minutes as Kawhi Leonard did some damage for the Spurs before a ginormous Danny Green (the lesser Green?) three gave the Spurs a 106-100 lead with 1:59 to go.
Eric Bledsoe beasted through the lane for an emphatic slam dunk on the ensuing possession to cut the lead to four, but the Suns couldn't creep any closer. Gerald Green and Channing Frye both got clean looks from three that would have cut the lead to one but couldn't connect. Bledsoe had an open path to the basket on the latter of those and probably should have taken the two to make it a one possession game.
But he didn't.
In fact, the only blemishes on Bledsoe's career night (30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists) were his seven turnovers and questionable decision making down the stretch.
But this night was more about how well the Spurs played coming back from a huge deficit than it was about the Suns squandering a big lead and a huge opportunity.
The Spurs are just really, really good and Danny Green's career high 33 points was just a little too much tonight.
The Suns will need to shake this one off and hope that Goran is ready to play tomorrow night, because in this crazy race to the finish line the Suns just got jumped by the Mavericks and Grizzlies and now sit in ninth with just three games to go.