Suns try to stave off elimination in San Antonio
(Sports Network) – The San Antonio Spurs attempt to eliminate the Phoenix Suns
and advance to the Western Conference Finals, as the clubs square off tonight
at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio leads the best-of-seven set 3-2. If necessary, Game 7 is
scheduled for Sunday at US Airways Center.
The winner of this series will meet the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz, who knocked
out No. 8 Golden State in five games in the other Western Conference
semifinals series, in the conference finals.
On Wednesday, Bruce Bowen hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 36.4 seconds
left, and the third-seeded Spurs took advantage of the Amare Stoudemire
suspension to beat No. 2 Phoenix, 88-85, in Game 5 of the West semis at US
Manu Ginobili had 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Tim Duncan ended with 21
points and 12 boards for the Spurs, who are 7-3 in this year’s playoffs.
Shawn Marion finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds for Phoenix, which blew a
16-point lead in the second quarter and couldn’t come out on top despite
holding the Spurs to 33 first-half points. Steve Nash ended with 19 points and
12 assists in defeat.
Both teams were shorthanded for the game, but the Suns were without their top
scorer and rebounder due to a one-game suspension. On Tuesday, the NBA
suspended Phoenix forwards Stoudemire, who is averaging 23.9 points and 12.1
rebounds in the playoffs, and Boris Diaw one game apiece and Spurs forward
Robert Horry for two games. The penalties came as the result of a flagrant
foul call by Horry, who delivered a forearm to Nash with 18.2 seconds left in
Phoenix’ 104-98 victory on Monday at San Antonio.
Horry will miss tonight’s game and will be eligible to play if the Suns force
a Game 7 or in the opener of the West finals.
The Spurs, who are 3-2 at home in the postseason, have won two straight and
seven of their last nine Game 6s in the playoffs. San Antonio has won three of
its last four games when it has the chance to eliminate its opponent from the
Phoenix, which is 2-2 on the road in the postseason, has dropped two straight
Game 6s in the playoffs. The Suns have won four of their last five contests
when facing elimination.
There is a lot of playoff history between the teams, as this is the eighth
time that the clubs have met in the postseason. The Suns defeated San Antonio
in the first round in 1992 and 2000 and in the semis in 1993. The Spurs beat
Phoenix in the opening round in 1996, 1998 and 2003 and also in the 2005
Western Conference finals.
The Suns have been eliminated in the Western Conference finals two consecutive
years. Phoenix lost in five games to the Spurs in 2005, and fell in six last
year to the Dallas Mavericks.
In round one, the Suns made it two straight years that they have eliminated
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Phoenix earned a 4-1 series victory
over the seventh-seeded Lakers. Last season, the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead in the
first round against Phoenix. Los Angeles fell in seven contests and was
eliminated in the opening round for the first time since 1996.
San Antonio ousted No. 6 Denver in five games. After dropping Game 1 at home,
the Spurs took control of the series by winning four in a row, including Games
3 and 4 at the Pepsi Center.
The Spurs are appearing in the postseason for the 10th straight year and have
won three of the last eight NBA championships. Last season, San Antonio was
eliminated in the conference semis by the Mavericks in seven games.