Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spurs-Suns -- Game 1 thread

Postgame thoughts: Suns, up 16 at one point, outplayed the Spurs and should have won. Then, even after San Antonio tied it up, Phoenix responded and could have avoided both overtimes had D'Antoni chosen to foul in those last-second situations. The Suns' interior defense was exploited time and time again during the comeback and overtimes. Phoenix doesn't run anymore, which means the Suns have to repeatedly score against the Spurs' halfcourt defense.

Nash's three-quarter-court heave is off. Spurs win, 117-115.

Spurs don't take a timeout, which prevents the Suns from making a substitution to get Shaq in for defense. Ginobili lets the clock wind down, drives to his left, scores on the layup with 1.8 seconds to go.

Bell inbounding to Diaw to Nash, 3-pointer ties it!!!

115-112, Spurs. Suns ball with 19.5 seconds to play. Let's see how the Spurs play this. Suns twice chose not to foul and it burned them. Spurs also have a foul to give.

Nash and Ginobili trade 3-point misses. Diaw misses a layup. Suns have to foul. Duncan inbounding, can't get it to Ginobili or Finley. Brent Barry to the line with 19.5 seconds to go. Misses first, makes second.

Ginobili scores on the blow-by past O'Neal, 114-112, Spurs. 1:07 left.

Ginobili's floater kisses the rim and in. 112-110, Spurs. Shaq flushes Nash's miss, 112-all.

Parker fouls out after hitting Nash on a 3-point attempt. Ball will be in Ginobili's hands the rest of the way. Nash hits 2 of 3. 110-110 all, 2:04 to go.

Spurs get three offensive rebounds. Duncan scores, 108-106, Spurs.

Hill inbounding, Diaw catches, travels (not called), and misses a fadeaway. Second OT coming.

Suns don't foul again!!!!! Calipari is in the building. Nash and Shaq both could have fouled Ginobili on the drive, but they Manu kick to Duncan, who ... makes his first 3-pointer of the season! Tie game, 104-104. 3 seconds left. This has to be Nash looking to shoot the potential game-winner. Let's see how the Spurs play it. Stoudemire fouled out earlier in OT.

Will the Suns foul this time?

Nash has come out aggressive in the OT, looking for his shot, which is what he should have done on the final possession of regulation. Nash to open the OT: jumper, assist to Stoudemire, jumper, 3-pointer. Suns up, 104-101, 12.6 seconds to go.

Bowen on Nash at the top of the circle, clock winding down. Diaw then comes up to set the screen, which forces a pass to Barbosa. The close-out forces Barbosa into a tough, off-balance shot just inside the free-throw line. It misses. Overtime.

Love that San Antonio is often using Rocky music during dramatic moments.

Phoenix elects not to foul and Finley ties it with a 3-pointer. 93-all. 15.1 seconds to go. Who's coaching the Suns, John Calipari?

Inexcusable for a shot-clock violation there with an opportunity to put the game away with a basket. That's entirely on Nash. He has to get them into their best offensive play and get a quality shot.

Shot-clock violation by Phoenix. Suns lead, 93-90 with 20.5 seconds to go.

Parker misses a jumper, Finley misses a 3.

Shaq stuffs Ginobili's drive, which leads to a Barbosa fastbreak bucket. Suns, 93-90, 1:10 left.

Stoudemire just tried to flush one, but was hit hard by Thomas. He powered it through and added the free throw. Suns, 91-90.

Nash 2-for-2 at the line. 88-88. 2 minutes left.

Duncan to a cutting Kurt Thomas for the Spurs first lead: 88-86.

Finley's 3-pointer ties it at 84-all. Just under 4 to play.

Nash answers with a fadeaway off the edge of the paint. Oberto, who committed a lane violation earlier, tries an entry pass to Duncan from a horrible angle that is easily picked off by Stoudemire. Think the Spurs would rather have Scola?

NBA teams on average score about one point per possession. So, the logic on long-term Hack-a-Shaq is this: If he makes 1 of 2 every trip to the line, the opposition won't make up any ground. If, of course, he misses both, it's a smart move.

Parker jumper has Spurs within 3 again. 82-79,

Oberto grabs Shaq in first attempt at Hack-a-Shaq, then again. Shaq to line. 0-for-2. Problem here, the Spurs just walked themselves right into the penalty, which means Nash and Stoudemire, etc., will also get free throws the rest of the way.

I can't remember a Game 1, maybe any game, that included more questioning and whining of so many calls. It's contagious.

Nash to Shaq on an alley-oop -- and 1. 3-point play, 82-76, Suns, 6:28 left.

Parker another layup. Parker then fouled on the break, makes 1 of 2. Spurs within 3, 79-76.

Duncan over Stoudemire on the block. Spurs within four, 77-73.

Suns up, 77-71, with 8:53 to go. Nash back in.

Spurs' non-Big 3: 5-for-18 from the field.

Another charge call. I grimace.

Stoudemire doesn't get enough credit for how skilled and forceful he is. He just put the ball on the floor, going left with his left hand and got fouled by Kurt Thomas.

Spurs open the fourth with ...? A gross defensive error. Jumper by Bell puts the Suns back up 8, 73-65.

Popovich's on-court interview heading into the fourth. His biggest concern: "Fewer gross defensive errors."

Parker struck for four field goals in the third and Ginobili added four. Both are getting to rim with relative ease. Suns lead, 71-65, after 3.

Stoudemire just picked up his fourth foul with 9.5 seconds to go in the third quarter. Suns up, 71-63.

Spurs have gone cold again. Suns up, 66-57.

I hate charges -- at all levels of basketball -- and there have been waaayyy too many called in this game. Choosing to stand stationary, with your hands at your sides, occupying a small area on the floor is not playing defense. Stealing the ball is playing defense, ball denial is playing defense, blocking a shot is playing defense. Standing somewhere, hoping someone runs into you? That's not playing defense. That's giving up. Ninety percent of charge calls should be play-ons. The other 10 percent should be blocks. There, I feel better.

In an effort to stop the Spurs' pick-and-roll game, the Suns go to a zone coming out of a timeout.

Stoudemire has really worked on his jump shot. He makes another one; he's now a reliable free throw shooter too.

Spurs are now forcing Shaq into guarding pick-and-rolls nearly every possession. In addition to Parker, Ginobili has also gotten into the lane for two layups early in the third quarter. Suns are better with Shaq on the bench.

It's raining in San Antonio. Another teardrop from Parker. Spurs down, 56-52.

Parker with a teardrop. Spurs within four, 50-46.

Duncan started the no-call complaining. Now everyone is doing it, including Nash.

Ginobili just 1-for-7, Parker 3-for-9 in the first 24 minutes. Spurs won't win this one, if these two don't get going. Shaq only played four minutes due to picking up three quick fouls. The growth of this Suns team is evident: Nash (5 points, 5 assists) no longer has to initiate the offense every possession.

Duncan finishes with 20 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Spurs trim the 16-point deficit in half, trail 48-40 at the break.

Barry just drained a 3-pointer. Spurs within 9, 45-36.

Brian Skinner just took a jump shot. This should never happen.

With the supporting cast giving them next to nothing, Spurs turn to Brent Barry to save them. Pop doesn't have a lot of other options. I think we can all agree that the Damon Stoudemire acquisition was a failure. Has anyone else mentioned this? Barry enters the game with San Antonio down 43-31, 2:50 left in the half.

Stoudemire free-throw line jumper on the break. Suns, 43-27. Spurs look old.

Diaw abuses Udoka in the post. Suns, 41-27.

Barbosa just burned Udoka on a cut to the basket and took a no-look over-the-head pass from Diaw for a 3-point play. Suns in control, 39-26.

Spurs biggest concern this series is being able to score enough points against a deeper team that has many more gifted offensive players. San Antonio's offense is not sharp.

Parker just fouled Barbosa shooting a 3-pointer, Ginobili just fouled Bell on the sideline. Spurs margin for error is much smaller than it used to be. Suns on 6-0 to open second quarter, lead 30-20.

Tracking down offensive rebounds, Suns outworking the Spurs right now. Diaw, on 3-for-4 shooting, has six points and looks sharp early. Good sign for Phoenix, which leads 24-20 after 1.

Ginobili goes underneath the screen and Nash makes the Spurs pay with an open-look 3-pointer. Suns lead, 20-16.

Spurs open the game 0-for-4 from the field with six turnovers in the first five minutes, but only trail 11-6. Somehow they manage to hang around, even when they are playing their worst.

Pre-game: I never thought I'd say this, but I think Gordon Giricek might be a difference-maker.

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