Spurs 111 - 106 Suns
  for this game

Spurs stun Suns to grab series lead

May 7, 2007 - 12:25 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- There was plenty of blood, sweat and tears for Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.

Nash was bloodied and sidelined by a fourth-quarter collision, and his absence dearly cost the Suns, who failed to execute down the stretch of a 111-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Tim Duncan had 33 points and 16 rebounds and Tony Parker added 32 and eight assists for the third-seeded Spurs, who continue to have the Suns' number in USAirways Arena. San Antonio has won its last five playoff games here dating to 2003.

"We'd rather play in the 80s or 90s. That's our type of game," Duncan said. "But we've got a lot of guys that are shooting the ball well, we're moving the ball well and the points are going up on the board."

The contrast in styles between the run-and-gun Suns and the defensive-minded Spurs produced another thrilling contest. There were eight lead changes and three ties in the fourth quarter.

However, the key moment came with 2:53 remaining, when Nash and Parker collided headfirst.

"I know we hit our heads really hard," Nash said. "He looked like he was really hurting so I just wanted to make sure he was OK."

"I thought I was bleeding," Parker said. "I thought my cut was open because I was the one trying to move forward."

Parker stayed on the floor for a moment and ended up with a bump on his forehead. Nash had a gash across the bridge of his nose that would not stop bleeding despite treatment at nearly every break in the game. He required six stitches afterward.

"It was just a big gash apparently and wide and deep and we couldn't get it to stop bleeding and there wasn't a lot of time left so we didn't think we had time to go in and stitch it up, so we tried to manage it," Nash said. "But it was too long and too deep."

Between changes of the bandage, the two-time MVP kept the Suns in the game. He scored seven straight points for Phoenix, including a 3-pointer that forged a 102-102 tie with 2:23 to play.

Duncan made a tough one-handed shot in the lane and Parker drilled a jumper before Nash responded with a scoop layup to cut the deficit to 106-104 with 1:13 remaining.

"He's a trooper by getting back in there and making some plays," Duncan said.

The Suns got back the ball with a chance to tie, but coach Mike D'Antoni substituted for Nash, who again needed to have the bleeding stemmed.

"I thought it made it tough," D'Antoni said. "He's bleeding all over the place, you don't know if he's in or out."

"We definitely needed him out there," Suns center Amare Stoudemire said. "He's one of our leaders."

Without the superstar point guard on the floor, Phoenix missed a pair of shots before guard Leandro Barbosa committed a dumb foul with 32 seconds to play.

San Antonio's Manu Ginobili split a pair from the line before Stoudemire sank a pair for Phoenix, making it 107-106 with 26 seconds left.

On the next possession, Barbosa fouled Parker before the ball was inbounded, allowing Michael Finley to go to the line for another free throw. Ginobili added another for a 109-106 lead, and Stoudemire missed a layup.

"I'd like to think we would have had a shot (with me in there)," Nash said. "It's pretty bad timing to not be able to go back in the game but that's life."

"I guess the refs thought there was too much blood or whatever," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It would have been great if he had been allowed to play. ... If we had to take Tim Duncan out at the end or someone like him, we'd feel the effects, too."

Finley scored 19 points and Robert Horry added 10 for the Spurs, who have won five straight playoff games since dropping their opener to Denver 15 days ago. They can put a stranglehold on this series with a win in Game Two on Tuesday.

"I told them they should enjoy it this evening but after that it doesn't mean a damn thing," Popovich said.

"I think we have to be a little hungrier," Nash said. "I think some of us just didn't have the fire it takes to be a world championship team. And that's not giving yourself a chance. I think we have to play harder, be a little more desperate."

The Spurs shot 50 percent (41-of-82) from the field and held a 49-35 advantage on the glass. Duncan led the way in both areas, making 12-of-24 shots and grabbing eight offensive boards.

Nash had 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting and added eight assists. Stoudemire had 20 points and 18 rebounds but could not handle Duncan, who had his 15th career 30-15 playoff game.

"We need to use the advantage, because I don't think they have anyone that can stop Timmy," Parker said.

A 3-pointer by Finley gave San Antonio a 90-88 lead with 7:19 left. Phoenix battled back and regained the lead at 93-92 on a bucket by Shawn Marion, who scored 16 points. Horry answered with a 3-pointer before Marion tied it with another hoop. Duncan scored inside before Nash began his scoring run.

These teams met in the conference finals two years ago, when the Spurs won the first two games here and closed out the series in five games. They did so despite having no answer for Stoudemire, who averaged more than 37 points.

This time, the answer seemed to be Duncan, who shook off a slow start to score 12 points in the first half, keeping San Antonio right in it at 53-51. Parker helped with 17 points.

"(Parker's) gained some wisdom playing the last five years and in games it shows," Popovich said.

Duncan had a dozen more in the third period as the Spurs took a 77-75 edge into the final period.


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