Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez
Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez
The savvy and ageless San Antonio Spurs (4-1) won a close contest over the young upstart Phoenix Suns (3-2) 99-96 on Thursday at the AT&T Center.
In a game that came down to the wire, Spurs’ all-star guard Tony Parker rose to the occasion, making the last four points of the game that included a go ahead jumper and game clinching layup with 12 seconds left in the game.
“Tony is somebody we depend on,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich after the game. “He plays a lot of minutes. We expect him to give us that offense and distribute the ball. He plays good defense every single night. He’s been doing it for a long time now.”
Tony Parker accounted for 15 of San Antonio’s final 16 points, ending the game with 20 points and six assists.
The Spurs struggled to keep pace with the Suns as the game was winding down, but Parker did what an all-star caliber player does — deliver in a timely fashion.
“We were struggling to score. We looked a little slow and tired, and he just made every shot,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili after the game. “He did an unbelievable job down the stretch.” Ginobili provided his usual spark off the bench, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds while dishing out three assists.
The young athletic Suns played like a fearless young team, proving to be a difficult task for the Spurs’ lineup to deal with.
“They create a lot of matchup problems,” said Parker. “Both of the brothers (Marcus and Markieff Morris) are tough to guard. Bledsoe in the pick-n-roll too, he’s super-fast. A lot of people don’t believe in them, but I think they are pretty good.” The Suns’ Morris brothers accounted for 34 points and 18 rebounds, while Suns guard Eric Bledsoe had 14 points and five assists.
“They had a good game,” Ginobili said. “We knew that after a back-to-back we weren’t going to be that sharp or energetic. At one point we were up ten, and we kind of stopped moving the ball. They started making shots and the whole game changed. Once you give a young team confidence that can happen.”
Tim Duncan added 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Danny Green had 19 points and five rebounds for the Spurs.
Initially, the San Antonio Spurs got off to a solid start against the Phoenix Suns shooting 60 percent from the field in the first quarter and took a 29-21 lead heading into the second. Ginobili paved the way early on with five points and two assists off the bench.
But the Spurs’ offense sputtered in the second half, and the Suns managed a 32-22 scoring advantage in the second that left the Spurs trailing by 53-52 at the half. Markieff Morris was responsible for 18 points alone in the quarter.
A 13-9 run by the Spurs to start the third quarter pushed them back in front. The Spurs maintained the lead throughout most of the third, but a late jumper by Markieff Morris tied the game at 73-all at the end of the quarter.
The Spurs face another tough Western Conference Pacific Division foe on Friday, Nov. 11, when Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors return to the AT&T Center. It will be the first time the two teams have played each other since the Spurs defeated the Warriors in the Western Conference semi-finals last season.