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Ginobili leads Spurs past Suns

Feb 1, 2008 - 8:05 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili stepped up when it mattered most.

Ginobili scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs came from behind to post an 84-81 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

Jacque Vaughn scored 17 points and Tim Duncan added 16 and 17 rebounds for the Spurs, who halted a three-game skid.

Shawn Marion scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards for Phoenix, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

"I don't think either team is going to be able to sell the tape of that game as fine basketball," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We were fortunate enough to win, but we don't impress too many people offensively. But we did make some stops down the stretch."

Despite waiting until 4:25 remained in the third quarter to hit his first shot from the field, Ginobili scored 11 points in the fourth as the Spurs overcame a 55-50 deficit entering the period.

The Suns extended their lead to six points early in the fourth quarter before the Spurs went on an 8-2 run capped by Steve Finley's 3-pointer to tie the game at 67-67.

After the teams traded baskets, the Spurs took a 71-69 edge on a layup by Duncan with just under five minutes to play.

"We've never been known for winning them pretty," Duncan said. "We were lucky to be down just six at the half. We have to get back to being a defensive team. We have to get back to a point where we can rely on our defense."

Phoenix gained the lead on Raja Bell's 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, but Bruce Bowen's jumper from just inside the arc put the Spurs up, 73-72, with 4:15 left to play, forcing the Suns to take a timeout.

Following the timeout, Steve Nash hit a 3-pointer to give the Suns a two-point lead. After Ime Udoka missed a jumper on the other end, the Suns' All-Star point guard was fouled and made the ensuing free throws to give Phoenix a 77-73 lead with 3:36 remaining.

After both teams failed to score on each of their next two possessions, Ginobili hit two foul shots to narrow the deficit to 77-75 with 2:22 left.

Following a long jumper by Amare Stoudemire that gave the Suns a four-point lead, Finley hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter to pull the Spurs within one.

On the ensuing possession, Nash made an uncharacteristic turnover which led to an easy layup by Duncan on the other end as San Antonio moved ahead, 80-79.

Stoudemire failed to handle Nash's pass on the other end and Ginobili picked up the loose ball and was fouled immediately.

"It wasn't typical down the stretch, but we didn't deserve it," Nash said. "We made a few mistakes and didn't make plays we should have made. We could have been up 15 or 20, but our offensive wasn't real sharp."

Ginobili hit both free throws, giving San Antonio a seemingly insurmountable 82-79 lead with just 15 seconds left.

But, Stoudemire made a layup and was fouled by Duncan on the Suns' next possession, giving the All-Star center a chance to tie the game at the line.

However, Stoudemire - who was just 6-of-11 from the line, missed the free throw with 8.7 seconds left.

"I normally make those types of free throws, so it is no biggie," Stoudemire said.

Ginobili grabbed the rebound off Stoudemire's miss, immediately was fouled and hit both free throws to seal the victory.

"It really didn't look good in the first half," said Ginobili, who missed his first seven shots of the game. "I wasn't feeling good, I wasn't energetic as I always feel. We weren't that good offensively for most of the game, but we came through at the end. If we can hold Phoenix under 90, that is huge."

Nash scored 17 points and handed out eight assists and Stoudemire added 16 and nine rebounds for Phoenix, which had its season-high six-game home winning streak halted.

"I thought our defense was very good, but we couldn't get any offense going," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That is not a bad problem to have because we will solve that."

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