Ginobili, Spurs sink Suns in two overtimesApr 20, 2008 - 12:29 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili continued to be the clutch performer for the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan did everything else.
Ginobili nailed the game-winning shot with 1.8 seconds left and Duncan collected 40 points and 15 rebounds as the Spurs clawed their way back to steal a 117-115 double-overtime victory away from the Phoenix Suns in Game One of their Western Conference first-round series on Saturday afternoon.
"It felt like a Finals game," Duncan said. "But it's just the first game of the first series, and we're going to have to get our energy back coming into the second game."
Duncan, Ginobili and Tony Parker combined to score 90 points for San Antonio, which was down nearly the entire game.
But Michael Finley sent the game to overtime with a clutch 3-pointer, and Duncan nailed his first shot from the arc of the season to send it to a second extra period.
When asked if Duncan's 3-pointer was a designed play, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich confirmed that it was.
"But he was the third option," Popovich said. "I didn't think it was going to go there, but he was exactly where he was supposed to be, and you could imagine my horror when it went in his direction. That's not what we expected would happen."
Forced to foul late, the Suns put Brent Barry on the line, where he missed one of his two attempts. That kept the game within reach for Phoenix, which trailed 115-112 with 19.5 left in double-overtime.
Suns guard Steve Nash engineered some heroics of his own, nailing a wild shot from the arc to tie the game with 15.7 seconds left, setting up the clutch shot by Ginobili, who scored 24 points.
He was able to isolate Suns guard Raja Bell, driving to his left for a surprisingly easy layup. Nash's desperation half-court heave fell wide left.
"He's one of the best 1-on-1 players in the league," Duncan said. "He's going to go right at you and make you make a decision. He made three or four layups just to get to that point. My legs were dead, and I was more than happy to stand down there and hope he made it."
Ginobili shared the sentiment.
"It was a very long (game)," Ginobili said. "We are very tired. It was a tough, long battle, and we all played a lot of minutes."
Parker scored 26 points before fouling out with 2:04 left in the second overtime for San Antonio, which will host Game Two on Tuesday.
Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire scored 33 points but scored just four points in the final two overtimes, fouling out at the end of the first extra period.
After Finley's 3-pointer with 15.1 seconds left in the fourth sent the game to overtime, the Suns grabbed a quick lead.
Nash, who finished with 25 points and 13 assists, had his hand in all 11 points of the first overtime. He scored seven, including a big 3-pointer to put Phoenix up by five, and had two assists to Stoudemire for easy layups.
But after Ginobili's drive collapsed the defense, Duncan found himself with an open 3-pointer, which he calmly sank with three seconds left in the first OT, knotting the game at 104-104.
The Suns stayed on the perimeter shooters on Ginobili's drive, choosing to neglect Duncan, who said "he had all the time in the world to line it up and let it fly," and that it felt good leaving his hands.
"When Tim made that 3-point shot, all I could think was, 'Happy Birthday Tim,'" Stoudemire said. "He made an amazing shot, and that is probably a shot he will never have again."
"He was 0-for-4 on the year," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "So, I guess he was due."
In double-overtime, Nash had a chance to give the Suns a lead but missed one of his three free throws and the game was tied again. Ginobili then drove down and hit a floater over Shaquille O'Neal for a 112-110 lead, but O'Neal had a monster two-handed putback to tie the game once again.
Early on, it looked like Phoenix, which won the season series, would run away with the win. They led by as many as 16 points, before the game began unraveling for them.
"We can't let games slip away like we did tonight," Bell said. "Tonight was very electric, but when you come into San Antonio, you give your best and you get the best."
"We had our chances, but that's why they are the champions. They came up with one, two, three four great shots," D'Antoni said. "We had some chances to put them away but couldn't do it."
San Antonio didn't make a field goal until 5:04 left in the first quarter with its first eight points coming from the free-throw line. Duncan finished with 12 points in the quarter, but Phoenix held a 24-20 lead heading into the second.
O'Neal picked up his second foul with 8:13 left in the first quarter and was forced to the bench. When he returned in the second, he quickly picked up his third and finished the first half with three fouls and zero points before scoring nine in the second half.
The Suns started the second on a 6-0 run, extending their lead to 30-20. Phoenix led 43-27 after a 14-foot jumper from Stoudemire with 4:45 left in the first half.
Barry hit a 3-pointer with 1:15 left in the first half which cut the lead to 45-36 and energized the crowd, but Nash answered with an 11-footer.
Duncan's 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting kept the Spurs afloat in the first half, but the Suns held a 48-40 lead at intermission.
Phoenix allowed San Antonio to hang around, and the Spurs took advantage, cutting the lead to 56-52 after Parker, who scored 11 in the quarter, hit a layup. But Nash and Stoudemire countered with a pick-and-roll for an easy dunk, increasing the cushion once again.
With 9:09 left in the game, Finley launched a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim and was still above the cylinder when O'Neal plucked it out of the air and was called goal-tending, cutting the lead to 77-71.
Midway through the fourth, the Spurs resorted to the Hack-A-Shaq strategy as Fabricio Oberto wrapped up O'Neal twice in a row to send the troubled foul shooter to the line. He missed his first two attempts.
"That's just a roll the bones type of deal," Popovich said. "Sometimes he misses his free throws and sometimes he makes five in a row. We don't do it often, if ever, but for whatever reason, I felt like doing it at the time."
Oberto's layup cut the deficit to three again, and Finley hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 84-84 with 3:52 left in the game.
Both teams traded baskets, until Duncan blocked Stoudemire's shot with under three minutes left. The Suns tried to double hard on Duncan in the post, but he found Kurt Thomas under the rim for an easy layup, and the Spurs grabbed their first lead of the game, 88-86, with 2:31 left in regulation.
After a pair of free throws from Nash, Duncan drove hard on O'Neal for a layup. Then, Stoudemire was able to connect on a three-point play which gave the Suns a 91-90 lead with 1:35 remaining.
Ginobili was stripped going to the basked on the next play, leading to Leandro Barbosa's layup which gave Phoenix a three-point edge.
Finley had a chance to tie the game with an open 3-pointer, but his shot hit the front of the rim. The Spurs forced the Suns into a 24-second violation, setting up one last chance with 20.5 seconds left in the game.
This time, Finley answered and his 3-pointer with 15.1 seconds remaining tied the game at 93-93, sending the game into overtime.
In the second overtime, both teams - possibly from fatigue - were able to get easy layups, before the Spurs clamped down on defense and secured the win.
"It was an amazing basketball game to be involved in," Barry said. "I'm going to go home and watch it on Instant Classics."
SAN ANTONIO 117 FINAL IN 2ND OT
Apr 19 6:31 PM
SAN ANTONIO 104 End 1ST OT, GOING INTO 2ND OT
Apr 19 6:09 PM
SAN ANTONIO 93 END OF 4TH QTR GOING INTO OVERTIME
Apr 19 5:52 PM
SAN ANTONIO 65 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 19 5:05 PM
SAN ANTONIO 40 HALFTIME
Apr 19 4:19 PM
SAN ANTONIO 20 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 19 3:37 PM
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