Sunday , May , 13 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili & San Antonio Spurs Get Physical In Game Three Win Over Steve Nash & Phoenix Suns

Game three between the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns lived up to the hype … San Antonio prevailed in a tough, physical game and now lead the series 2-1 … What can Phoenix do to win in game four? … And what about the officiating? … Click here to get your re-cap and analysis …

What Happened: The and engaged in some trash-talk prior to game three of their Western Conference playoff series.

But on Saturday evening, San Antonio’s best players backed-up their words, leading the Spurs to a 108-101 win over the Suns at the AT&T Center.

scored 33 points-13 in the fourth quarter- to go with 19 rebounds, while broke out of his slump, shaking off a black eye to score 24 points.

San Antonio was the more physical team, out-rebounding the Suns 47-39 and shooting nine more free throws.

led the Suns with 26 point, seven rebounds, four blocks, and two steals.

Phoenix’s other stars, and , struggled. Nash didn’t score a point in the opening-half, missing his first nine shots. He finished with16 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists.

Amare Stoudemire, who called the Spurs a “dirty team” before game three, scored 21 points. But he spent most of the game on the bench because of foul trouble.

The Spurs led for most of the second-half. Each time the Suns made a run, Stoudemire, much to the delight of Spurs’ fans, got called for a foul. Late in the fourth quarter, he helped Phoenix close the lead to six points by hitting 5-of-7 shots.

The Spurs lead the series 2-1. Game four is scheduled for Monday in San Antonio.

Reaction of Phoenix guard Steve Nash
on his disappointing play:
"I just had a bad game, and it’s frustrating to have it in such a big game but it happens from time to time. Although they did play me tough, I still had my chances and it just didn’t bounce for me tonight.” (ESPN)

Reaction of Phoenix guard Steve Nash on what he needs to do for game four:
"I’d better do something. I can’t just not contribute at all. I’m always going to try to be aggressive and I try to take what the defense gives me. If I’m there to shoot, I’ve got to keep shooting. If I’m drawing attention and can pass to a teammate, that’s the play I try to make.” (CNNSI)

Reaction of San Antonio forward Tim Duncan
joking about Manu Ginobili’s eye injury:
"It looked pretty bad actually, it still looks pretty bad. But … it fixed his shot, so it might be the other eye on Monday.” (

My Take: Game three was extremely physical. This blue-collar, aggressive style favors San Antonio. The Suns have made strides as a half-court, defensive team, but aren’t at the level of the Spurs.

Phoenix has to stop Ginobili and Parker. These two were  non-factors in game two, but dropped 40 points and nine assists in game three. Duncan’s always going to score, but San Antonio’s much more dangerous when the Argentine and French-man start contributing.They must contain Ginobili and Parker in game four.

The Suns had issues with the refereeing in game three. Their coach, Mike D’Antoni, walked out on the post-game press conference because he was frustrated with reporters asking about all the physical contact.

This issue is nothing new for Phoenix. CNNSI reporter, Jack McCallum, spent a year with the Suns and wrote an interesting book called Seven Seconds or Less.

In his book, McCallum addresses D’Antoni and the Suns’ uneasy relationship with NBA referees:

But most of the time the Suns feel as if they get screwed by the zebras more often than their         opponents do. And every other team feels the same way. The state of refereeing is always a hot  topic during the playoffs. Jermaine O’Neal of the Indiana Pacers and Shaquille O’Neal of the Miami Heat have already been fined for blasting refs. Commissioner David Stern is asked about the officiating during an impromptu news conference at the pacers-Nets series. Stern estimates that officials make the wrong calls about five percent of the time. “Right now,” says David Griffin (a Suns front office executive), “we’re getting ninety-five percent of the five percent.” (Seven Seconds or Less, p.44)

NBA officiating has been a hot topic because of the Tim Duncan ejection and the recent academic study suggesting the zebras have a racial bias. Phoenix has to play through whatever issues they have. Complaining about the refereeing wastes energy. The road team always seems to get fewer calls, so the Suns have to suck it up and play.

However, Jerry Colangelo, Phoenix’s veteran front-office executive, has the ear of Commissioner Stern and Stu Jackson. If the Suns have a serious problem with the officiating, they should let Colangelo discuss the issue privately with the suits at NBA head office.

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