Sunday , May , 06 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Nash Gashed; Spurs steal Game 1

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Tim Duncan scored 33 points and grabbed 16
rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns, 111-106, to steal
Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series at US Airways
Center.

Tony Parker added 32 points and dished out eight assists, but it was his
collision with Phoenix’s Steve Nash that most likely determined the outcome of
this game.

Nash ended with 31 points and eight assists, but he missed most of the final
minute of play as the bleeding from a gash on his nose couldn’t be stopped.

Amare Stoudemire added 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Suns, who
missed the two-time reigning league MVP desperately. Leandro Barbosa tallied
18 points and Shawn Marion had 16 for Phoenix, which will try to even this
series in Game 2 on Tuesday.

The defining moment of this game, and maybe the series, happened with 2:53
left. With San Antonio leading 100-99, Parker and Nash knocked heads, causing
Parker to fall to the floor in obvious pain, while Nash calmly walked to the
bench. The end result was Nash with a gash on the bridge of his nose, while
Parker stepped away with what appeared to be a small bump on his forehead.

Initially, the cut didn’t slow down a bandaged Nash, who answered a pair of
Duncan free throws with a three-pointer at the 2:23 mark to tie the game at
102.

Duncan, though, hit a turnaround baseline jumper with 1:58 left and, following
a Nash missed three, Parker hit an elbow jumper for a 106-102 cushion with
1:23 remaining.

Nash hit a driving layup with 1:13 remaining, but shortly after that he would
have to leave the game as the cut on his nose continued to pour out blood.

During a timeout, Nash needed to be tended to with more gauze and bandages, as
players are not allowed on the floor bleeding or with blood on their uniform.
He briefly went on the floor with 54 seconds on the clock, but was forced to
the bench until the bleeding could be controlled.

While Nash was on the bench, the Suns didn’t have a go-to guy and San Antonio
took advantage. With 42 seconds left, Barbosa missed a jumper and Stoudemire
missed a lay-in eight seconds later.

Later, Michael Finley hit a pair of free throws with 9.1 seconds left, icing
the game and giving San Antonio a 110-106 lead.

“Obviously I wanted to be out there, numerous times I tried to get out there,”
said Nash, who was wearing a bandage on the bridge of his nose at the news
conference after the game. “For whatever reason this happened to me and to us
today. We’ll just have to hope we don’t have this sort of calamities the rest
of the playoff games.”

Nash did enter the game at that point, but wasn’t a factor in the final
seconds.

“Of course that makes a difference,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Nash
missing time. “That was a real tough break for them. I guess the refs thought
there was too much blood. It would have been great if he would have been
allowed to play.”

Finley ended with 19 points for the Spurs, who have won five straight
postseason games after losing their playoff opener to the Nuggets.

“Obviously we have to make some adjustments,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said.
“We can’t obviously give up 111 points and have them shoot 50 percent for us
to win. We’re going to have to do a better job.”

San Antonio also benefited from a 49-35 advantage on the boards.

“I thought the whole team did well and it was an emphasis for us because they
are so athletic and they score so much,” Popovich said about his team’s
decided rebounding advantage. “We really couldn’t afford to give them second-
chance points and we did a better job with that than we usually do.”

The first half was close throughout. San Antonio led 27-26 after one quarter,
but a 13-4 run to begin the second gave Phoenix its first lead of the game.
Barbosa scored six points during the surge, capping it with a layup for a
39-33 lead 4 1/2 minutes into the stanza.

The Spurs later scored seven of nine points to draw within 52-51 after a
Parker layup with six seconds remaining in the half and San Antonio went into
the break trailing 53-51.

After Phoenix extended to a 55-52 lead early in the third, the Spurs went on a
15-4 run to take a lead they would not relinquish until the fourth quarter.
Parker had six points during the burst, ending it with a jumper for a 67-59
cushion four just under four minutes elapsed in the quarter.

The Suns later went on a 7-2 run to draw within 75-73 following a Barbosa
jumper with 2:23 left and Phoenix went into the fourth down just 77-75.

“It was another one of those grind-it-out games,” Duncan said. “Those guys can
put a lot of points on the board. I thought we were pretty solid, doing a good
job at the three-point line, limiting their shots.”

Game Notes

Phoenix defeated the Lakers in the first round…Raja Bell had 10 points for
the Suns…Robert Horry tallied 10 points for San Antonio…The Spurs hit two
more shots from the field, including one more three pointer…Both teams hit
22 free throws, with the Spurs going 22-of-33 and Phoenix hitting 22-of-27.

PHO SAN