The Phoenix Suns are known as a finesse team that beats you from the outside. Well, that has been true in the past, but not so much this year. They still shoot the ball extremely well from beyond the arc, but they've shown some toughness, and last night was another example in their 110-102 victory over San Antonio. They went up 2-0 in the series as the teams head to San Antonio for game three Friday Night at 8:30 on ESPN. Jared Dudley and Channing Frye combined to bring the Suns back from an 11-point deficit in the second quarter. Dudley was huge on the offensive glass with four offensive boards and some putbacks, and Frye was five-of-six from trifecta with two in the first half and three in the second half when the Suns made their run. Dudley had 11 and Frye 15.Those two guys, Amar'e Stoudemire's free throw shooting along with his pick and roll plays with Steve Nash, Grant Hill's clutch shooting and the offensive glass were the reasons the Suns won.
Phoenix shot 9-of-19 from trifecta. Jason Richardson was three-of-six. Everybody talks about the San Antonio Big Three of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan. They are very good. But the Suns have their own three amigos in Nash, Amar'e and Richardson. Both teams have a fourth player to add to that list; San Antonio with Richard Jefferson, who played well last night with 18 and 10, and Hill for the Suns, who was huge down the stretch with some key jumpers to keep the Suns in front. Hill finished with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 from the line.
The Spurs shot 50 percent from the field, almost 39 % from trifecta, but only 68 percent from the line (15-22). The Suns were off from the field, for them, shooting 42%. But their 47% from trifecta and 29-37 from the line (78%) were huge along with their 18 offensive rebounds compared to the Spurs' seven. Amar'e was 11-of-13 from the line and that was important. He's shooting 78% from the line in the postseason, which is critical for his team's run at a title. He is going to get to the line, and if he makes 80 %, the Suns are in pretty good shape. He finished with 23 and 11. Nash had 19 points and six assists. Richardson finished with 19. The Suns outrebounded the Spurs, 49-37, and Dudley was a big reason. He and Frye were tremendous off the bench.
San Antonio is not out of this by any means; they're just too good. Duncan had a big night with 29 points and 10 boards. Parker came off the bench to score 20, but Ginobli was quiet with just 11, though he sank a couple of big threes at crucial times.
Dudley said after the game "we want to go to San Antonio and steal one." I think the right answer is we want to win game three. They need to be totally focused on the next game. The Suns don't need to think about the two games in SA, they need to just think about the next one.
San Antonio is formidable and they can certainly win two in SA and be right back in it. They are a championship caliber team as four titles in the last 11 years attest to. This Suns team seems different to me, though, from Suns teams of the past 10 years. They are more aggressive and physical. They can always shoot and Nash and Amar'e are as good as it gets.
This should be a compelling series. Along with Boston-Cleveland, the most competitive. I highly recommend watching this series if you can stay up or tape it.
Tonight's game is Atlanta at Orlando at 7 on ESPN. Hawks have their work cut out for them. They had a miserable game one losing 114-71. This could be a sweep.
(Steve Nash pictured above).