Parker's 41-point outburst gives Spurs 3-0 lead in seriesApr 26, 2008 - 6:46 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Tony Parker knows how to get it done - and he proved it on Friday.
Parker scored a career-best 41 points as the San Antonio Spurs coasted to a 115-99 triumph over the Phoenix Suns in Game Three in their Western Conference first-round series.
The defending champion Spurs will look to complete a series sweep on Sunday in Game Four. No team in league history has ever rallied from three games behind to win a best-of-seven series.
"We possibly played our best game of the year," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Tony has been very aggressive and has done a great job. He has been phenomenal."
Tim Duncan collected 23 points and 10 rebounds and Manu Ginobili scored 20 points off the bench for the Spurs, who have sent the Suns packing in four of the last five postseasons.
"That is the best I have ever seen someone play," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They played well and we didn't have the answers for them. They just beat us so all we can do now is gather ourselves for Sunday and try to give them a good run and see if we can win one."
Even though Phoenix was in desperate need of a win, it was San Antonio that came out hitting on all cylinders from the start in this one.
The Spurs raced out to an impressive 27-12 advantage through the opening 8 1/2 minutes while shooting a sizzling 72 percent (13-of-18) from the field.
After watching its lead get trimmed to 37-31 just four minutes into the second, San Antonio scored seven consecutive points to create a 13-point cushion on three free throws by Michael Finley with 6:50 remaining.
"We don't score 33 that often in a quarter but we wanted to really concentrate defensively and try not to fall into a hole," Popovich said. "We were fortunate that we did make shots at the same time, so it was a good combination for us in the first quarter."
Parker's running floater in the lane at the buzzer helped the Spurs carry a 61-47 bulge at intermission. The reigning NBA Finals MVP led the way with 19 points at the break.
"My shot felt good so I wanted to keep shooting," Parker said. "They were backing off on the pick and rolls, so I took every shot. We played great basketball and sometimes that happens it just clicked. We knew coming in to Phoenix that we can't allow us to have a bad start, so I took it upon myself to be very aggressive in the beginning to make sure we had a good start."
Parker, who also handed out 12 assists, connected on 17-of-26 shots to surpass his previous best of 38 points against the Miami Heat on January 20, 2006.
"It was a big game and we just learned from our past mistakes when we go 2-0 and don't play well on the road," Parker said. "I think we learned a lot from that and me, personally, from those series where I had two good games and then Game Three and Game Four I was not really aggressive. So I just wanted to be aggressive and see what happened."
San Antonio put the game away in the third, extending its lead to 23 points and took an insurmountable 91-72 lead into the final period.
Phoenix now sits on the brink of elimination despite acquiring four-time champion Shaquille O'Neal, who was supposed to solidify the middle with his defensive presence.
"If we can get one game and take it from there - but it has never been done before," O'Neal said of rallying from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. "They played well and I feel that we didn't really get up into them. We are definitely in a hole, but if we can win one game, then we can see what will happen."
Boris Diaw hit two free throws to slice Phoenix's deficit to 13 with 8:47 remaining in the fourth. But Ginobili and Parker hit consecutive 3-pointers to restore order and seal the triumph.
"We played an unbelievable game, we made tons of shots and we didn't have any meltdowns in any part of the game," Ginobili said. "It was almost a perfect game and it was crazy the way (Parker) played."
Amare Stoudemire had 28 points and 11 boards and Leandro Barbosa chipped in 20 in his first start of the series for the Suns, who suffered their first three-game slide this campaign.
"They played playoff basketball, it's plain and simple. They take their time and they make sure the get a good shot every time down," Stoudemire said. "Now my mindset is to try and get a win. That's the name of the game. I'm never one to give up; we have been in this place before."
SAN ANTONIO 115
PHOENIX 99 FINAL
Apr 26 1:08 AM
SAN ANTONIO 91
PHOENIX 72 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 26 12:37 AM
SAN ANTONIO 61
PHOENIX 47 HALFTIME
Apr 25 11:50 PM
SAN ANTONIO 33
PHOENIX 19 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 25 11:07 PM
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