10:30 PM ET, January 29, 2009
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
"We're scoring way too many points," Popovich said jokingly after the Spurs beat the Suns 114-104 on Thursday night. "We shouldn't be having this much fun."
• The Spurs, who play at home vs. the Hornets before heading out on an eight-game road trip, have won 16 of their last 20 games.
• Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili combined for 76 of the Spurs' 114 points. Ginobili scored a season-high 30 points and went 18-for-18 from the foul line, tying the Spurs' franchise record for free throws made in a game.
• Shaquille O'Neal scored 13 points and passed Hakeem Olajuwon for seventh place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. O'Neal, who has 26,954 career points, needs 455 more points to catch Moses Malone for fifth.
• Steve Nash had 16 points and 18 assists, marking the third time this month he's recorded 18 or more assists. It was the third time Nash has had three or more games with 18 assists in a calendar month.
-- ESPN research
Manu Ginobili had the most fun. He made 18 free throws, setting a franchise record for foul shots in a game without a miss, and finished with 30 points and nine rebounds.
The victory was the Spurs' 29th in a row when they score 100 or more points -- 14 last season and 15 this season.
The game was close through three quarters, before a 9-2 run early in the fourth period gave the Spurs a 12-point lead. The Suns cut it to 107-104 with 1:05 remaining, but Parker's field goal and Ginobili's five free throws closed out the scoring.
Roger Mason, whose 3-point buzzer-beater gave San Antonio a one-point victory over Phoenix on Christmas, added 12 points. The team's point total was the most in regulation since Dec. 6.
Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Grant Hill had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Steve Nash finished with 16 points and 18 assists, and Shaquille O'Neal and Matt Barnes each scored 13 points. It was the first time in 20 games that O'Neal failed to score at least 15 points.
"Kurt [Thomas] and Timmy [Duncan] did a great job defensively against Shaq," Popovich said. "They anchored our defense."
O'Neal, chosen to the West All-Star team Thursday and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field this season, was only 5-of-14 against the Spurs.
Ginobili, a longtime Suns killer, was aggressive throughout.
"I had a good start and my confidence went up," he said. "My focus was to get to the rim. I found a lot of lanes to the rim."
Parker, who also was named to the West All-Star team as a reserve on Thursday, also found a lot of holes in the Suns' defense.
"We just tried to stay close and we are confident in our defense to make stops in the end and we made some big shots in the end."
The first half, which ended 57-57, was filled with notable milestones, heated play, unusually high scoring when these teams meet, and immaculate ballhandling.
During the half, Nash had nine assists, passing Suns coach Terry Porter for 11th place on the NBA's career list. Nash's seventh assist gave him 7,161, one more than Porter. O'Neal, who had eight points in the half, moved into seventh place on the scoring list, passing Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal's sixth point him at 26,947, one ahead of Olajuwon.
The heated play was reflected in that four technical fouls were called, three against the Suns, each of which Mason converted. The high scoring was mostly the result of an uptempo first period, which ended with San Antonio leading 32-31. Usually when these teams face each other, it's a low-scoring affair, but both teams' sharp ballhandling led to the big point production.
The Suns, one of the league's worst offenders in turnovers, did not have a turnover in the first two quarters. San Antonio only had five turnovers, one in the first period.
By halftime, when there were 12 ties and 11 lead changes, five players were in double figures. Duncan led the Spurs with 13 points, Ginobili had 12, and Parker 10. Stoudemire topped the Suns with 14, and Nash had 12, including a 3-pointer from 26 feet just before halftime that tied it.
The third period, which finished with San Antonio leading 89-84, was marked by a parade to the free throw line by the Spurs. Overall, the Spurs converted 17 of 20 foul shots, including nine in a row by Ginobili, to the Suns' three of three.
Surprisingly, the Suns started fouling Bruce Bowen intentionally -- similar to the Spurs' often-used strategy of Hack-A-Shaq against O'Neal. Bowen, who had made only two of eight from the line this season, was 5-for-6 during the quarter.
Duncan was surprised that the Suns decided to foul Bowen.
"We weren't expecting it," he said. "He missed the first one, then made five of six. That was huge for us."
Bowen, a 57-percent career foul shooter, wasn't surprised that he was so successful at the line.
"In those situations, if I get there, I'll make them," he said.
Again, the ballhandling was near flawless, with San Antonio committing just one turnover and the Suns their first three of the game.
Porter was disappointed in the Suns' play late in the game.
"We lost our composure," Porter said, noting the Suns' five turnovers in the last period. "Those San Antonio games are like playoff games, they're very emotional. But you just have to play through it and we didn't do it."
The Suns had not played a home game since Jan. 16. ... It was San Antonio's third straight road game, and the Spurs will play nine of their next 10 games away from home during their annual Rodeo Road Trip (the only home game during that stretch is Saturday against New Orleans). ... The Spurs' Michael Finley has played in 282 consecutive games.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-76 (.461)||40-81 (.494)|
|3PM-3PA||6-19 (.316)||4-7 (.571)|
|FTM-FTA||38-44 (.864)||20-25 (.800)|
|Fast Break Points||6||10|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||21 (1/0)||24 (4/0)|