Spurs Hold Off Suns Late Rally for the Victory
By Tim Price
Spurs vs. Suns
February 28, 2010
AT&T Center // San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO (NBA.com exclusive) -- Just four nights ago, Manu Ginobili blocked a slam dunk attempt at the mouth of the rim to help the Spurs gut out a win.
And clinging to a two-point lead over the Suns in the final minute on Sunday, the Spurs got the big play again when their opponent failed to convert a slam dunk. Only, this time, there was no San Antonio player there to block it.
Jason Richardson blew a breakaway slam dunk that would have tied the game with 41 seconds left, and the Spurs made their final nine free throws to pull out a 113-110 victory over Phoenix at AT&T Center.
"It happens," Richardson said.
Just not often, particularly for two-time Slam Dunk champion Richardson. He was 8-for-12 before missing the gimme. He was alone past the midcourt line after Jared Dudley came away with the Spurs' George Hill's bad pass.
"I went up and just missed it," Richardson said. "I don't like to miss dunks, especially during crunch time."
Phoenix (37-24) lost for the first time after a season-equaling five-game winning streak. The Suns are 11-3 since late January.
San Antonio (33-24) picked up a half game on idle Portland for the seventh seed in the Western Conference. The Spurs also won at home against Oklahoma City on Wednesday when Ginobili blocked Kevin Durant on a dunk attempt.
It was an evenly played game that turned on mistakes -- Richardson's being the most glaring.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent (51 for the Suns and 50.6 for the Spurs), including better than 60 percent for both teams in the fourth quarter. The Suns had one more rebound than San Antonio. Phoenix was better from the 3-point line (eight 3-pointers to the Spurs' four), but the Spurs had five more trips to the free-throw line and outshot Phoenix 82 percent to 70).
Both teams committed 12 turnovers, but San Antonio converted for 13 points to the Suns' nine.
"I thought it was a great game," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "They made the plays down the stretch that got them over the hump."
Immediately after Richardson blew the dunk, the Spurs brought the ball back up the floor and Hill missed a 3-pointer. But Tim Duncan grabbed the rebound -- over Richardson. Dudley committed a foul to stop the clock, and Richardson squatted down and turned his face toward the floor.
"That's a tough play to swallow," Gentry said. "But it's not the play that determines the game. There were other plays we should have made that counted so much."
The Suns almost made a big play when the Spurs inbounded toward the Phoenix basket and Grant Hill couldn't quite come away with it. Ginobili made both free throws and San Antonio led by three with three seconds to go.
The Suns had one last chance and quickly brought the ball up. Steve Nash had a look at a 3-pointer from about four feet past the line, but he passed instead to Channing Frye, who had moved inside the 3-point line.
"We played hard for 48 minutes and found a way to make shots," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It was also a little good fortune, But, sometimes, that's what it takes."
Phoenix squandered a 41-point game from Amar'e Stoudemire (15-for-28 and 12 rebounds). Richardson scored 20 and Nash added 18 points and 11 assists. Stoudemire started the game 3-for-11.
But the Spurs had three players with 20-plus -- two bench players -- and three others in double figures. Ginobili scored 21, Duncan 20 and Jefferson 20 on 7-for-11 shooting in his new role off the bench.
"He's been aggressive," Popovich said. "He's driving the ball well. He's driving with the shot and not thinking about things. His defense is better, too."
There were 22 lead changes, including 15 in the first half when the Spurs seemed poised to get something going, yet Nash had the answer.
San Antonio had led nine of the opening 10 1/2 minutes of the game, but Nash hit a pull-up jumper on the fast break to tie the score 18-18. And after Dudley's basket and Frye's 3-pointer sandwiched a 3-point play by Ginobili, Nash ended the first quarter when he dashed down the court to beat the clock with a dribble-and-stop jumper just inside the 3-point line that gave Phoenix a 25-21 advantage.
The Spurs trailed by as much as seven in the second quarter, but they were ahead by two on a Tony Parker layup with 30 seconds before halftime. Nash tied it up with a jumper from 17 feet and, after Parker's traveling violation with 4.5 seconds left, Nash made another dash down the court and whipped a pass over Stoudemire for a 3-pointer at the buzzer and a 52-49 lead.
At halftime, Nash was 5-for-7 with five assists and 11 points while Parker was 4-for-6 (plus 4-for-4 from the free-throw line) with three assist and 12 points.
Parker missed the final 6 1/2 minutes, apparently still feeling the effects of food poisoning and missing Friday's game in Houston. He finished Sunday with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes.