Suns hand Spurs first home lossDec 18, 2007 - 6:03 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) - Despite a monster performance from Tim Duncan, the Phoenix Suns handed the San Antonio Spurs their first home loss of the season, 100-95, Monday night at the AT&T Center.
Duncan nearly had a double-double in the first quarter alone, with 10 points and eight rebounds. His 36 points and 17 rebounds were both season-highs.
"He got going, and we tried to start throwing some different looks at him. He's the best. He's great," Phoenix forward Grant Hill said. "We came out tonight and didn't play great basketball, but we were consistent. We weathered their offensive surges and played good defense. They're a great team, and we were just able to prevail there at the end."
Grant Hill led the Suns with 22 points. Leandro Barbosa and Amare Stoudemire combined to score 14 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since San Antonio eliminated the Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals last season. As the game became nip-and-tuck late, Stoudemire said the crowd and energy gave the game a playoff feel.
"It was definitely fun to play the last two minutes. It was high intensity, and a playoff atmosphere," Stoudemire said. "And when you get playoff atmosphere game in December, you know it's fun to play."
Steve Nash was held scoreless in the first half on 0-for-3 shooting. His first field goal came with 8:34 left in the third quarter, and he finished with 10 points and 10 assists.
The Spurs trailed after the third quarter, 74-67, but started the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run. They briefly took the lead, 77-76, after a Duncan offensive rebound and layup with 9:19 remaining.
The teams see-sawed for 23 lead changes, 12 in the fourth quarter. Manu Ginobili, who finished with 18 points, hit a 3-pointer with 4:34 left in the game that gave the Spurs an 86-85 lead.
Duncan hit two free throws with under two minutes left that tied the game at 90-90, but Steve Nash found Stoudemire for an easy, powerful one-handed dunk on the next possession.
Michael Finley, who finished with 15 points, hit a 3-pointer with 1:17 to go that gave the Spurs a 93-92 lead, and Stoudemire committed an offensive foul trying to set a screen for Nash.
The Spurs committed a turnover, though, and Hill hit a 14-foot jumpshot that gave the Suns a one-point lead with 39.8 seconds remaining.
"Tonight, we closed the game out," Suns forward Shawn Marion said. "It was a tight score the entire night. We knew the Spurs would make a run at us late in the fourth, but we just kept our composure and won the game."
Bruce Bowen missed a 3-pointer in the corner that would have given the Spurs the advantage, and Phoenix left with a win.
"It felt good, that last shot," Bowen said. "It's a shot that I would take again, every time."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that wasn't the designed play.
"We ran it for Manu to go to the basket and try to find Timmy. Grant Hill did a good job of cutting Manu off, and you have to hit the guy who's open," Popovich said. "I would have liked if Bruce would have pumped that and drove it, but in the heat of battle, you have an open three, you take it."
Without Tony Parker in the lineup for the third straight game, the Spurs needed Duncan's effort to even stay close, as the rest of the starters combined to score 33 points. San Antonio is 1-2 without Parker in the lineup.
"Of course we miss Tony Parker. He's one of our best players," Duncan said. "We miss him offensively and for the way he attacks and breaks people down. You never know how having him out there and having those things available to us would have changed things tonight."
Duncan had a seemingly easy layup to end the third quarter, but came up short. It was that kind of night for the Spurs, who are now 13-1 at home.
"I thought it was a good win for us. We scrapped it out," Nash said. "It wasn't necessarily pretty for us, but we did the job."
SAN ANTONIO 95 FINAL
Dec 17 10:59 PM
SAN ANTONIO 67 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 17 10:20 PM
SAN ANTONIO 50 HALFTIME
Dec 17 9:36 PM
SAN ANTONIO 20 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 17 9:04 PM
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