Suns keep season alive with resounding winApr 28, 2008 - 12:15 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Raja Bell and Boris Diaw finally showed up. Luckily for the Phoenix Suns, it was just in time to save their season.
Bell had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists and Diaw added 20, 10 and eight as the Suns staved off elimination with a 105-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of their Western Conference first-round series on Sunday.
Steve Nash scored 15 points and Shaquille O'Neal collected 14 and 12 rebounds for Phoenix, which cut San Antonio's lead in the series to 3-1. Game Five will be Tuesday in San Antonio.
It was an important contribution from the previously comatose Suns' bench which made up for an uncharacteristic showing by Amare Stoudemire, who scored seven points on 3-of-11 shooting.
As such, it was a bit of role reversal Sunday.
"I thought that Boris obviously dominated the game on both ends of the floor," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I thought he was phenomenal. His defense on (Tony) Parker, and then being able to kind of direct the offense from the low post and that was huge.
"I thought Raja - his aggressiveness coming out shooting, playing - did an unbelievable job. The rest of the guys just chipped in, and we got one. But we got a long ways to go yet."
Phoenix was avalanched in Game Three here thanks to Parker, who poured in 41 points and dismantled the Suns' pick-and-roll defense with ease. The loss put Phoenix in the unenviable position of having to make history to move on in the postseason.
No team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. The Suns took the first step toward doing so behind Bell and Diaw, who were absent in the first three games of the best-of-seven matchup.
"I made a commitment to try and be a little more aggressive today," Bell said. "A lot of nights I find myself in the corner and just standing which gives guys an opportunity to rest, and I was committed not let that happen today. It won't work out like that every time but, today, it did and I was glad I could help."
In Game Three, the duo combined for just 15 points. Diaw, in particular, struggled on defense while trying to guard good friend and countryman Parker, who many believed all but ended Phoenix's hope to win the series.
"We were both angry and frustrated that we lost three games because we've always felt that we can beat them," Diaw said. "Like we look at Game Three, and it looks like whatever they do they are going to beat us, and we can do nothing against them.
"Then, we look at this game, and it's the other way around. It looks like we can stop they're offense and get good movement and they can do nothing about our offense. So, it's a battle, but we know that, if we take care defensively, mainly off their pick-and-rolls, then we will be fine."
The Suns, who fell behind by 14 points after the first quarter in that contest, led by 21 after the opening period Sunday and never looked back.
"I guess because we lost, we were flat. Both teams want to play hard, both teams want to win just as badly as the other," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They played better than we did, and they were more aggressive right out of the gate.
"Just as I said last game, I don't think they were flat we just played our (butt) off, and tonight, I thought that's what they did."
They sprinted out to a 20-5 lead midway through the first and, after San Antonio scored four straight, reeled off 10 in a row en route to a 34-13 advantage after one period.
The Suns held the Spurs to just 21 percent shooting and a series-low point total in the quarter.
"We understood that we had to come out early and be productive," Bell said. "We dug ourselves a big hole in the last game and we were a bit embarrassed after last game's performance at home, in a game that we definitely needed to have.
"We came out and played really hard and really well. I know that this series isn't over. Until they win four, we still have a chance."
Leandro Barbosa, who scored 15 points off the bench, nailed a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 93-65 and effectively seal the win.
Both teams pulled most of their starters in the fourth quarter, but that did not temper the intensity from Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni, who was ejected with 3:40 left and his team up by 32 points.
Parker scored 18 points and Tim Duncan added 14 and 10 rebounds
"They just played harder than us in the first quarter that was obvious. They were first to every loose ball, they were making every shot," Parker said.
"That's what we had to expect, that they're going to show a reaction. Now, it's our turn to take that game and make some improvements and match their energy at home and play for our crowd."
SAN ANTONIO 86
PHOENIX 105 FINAL
Apr 27 6:17 PM
SAN ANTONIO 65
PHOENIX 93 END, 3RD QTR
Apr 27 5:42 PM
SAN ANTONIO 43
PHOENIX 65 HALFTIME
Apr 27 4:57 PM
SAN ANTONIO 13
PHOENIX 34 END, 1ST QTR
Apr 27 4:15 PM
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