Turnovers Prove Costly, Spurs Win Game 5
1Q Both the Suns and the Spurs came out with strong first quarters, which would ultimately end with San Antonio leading. 'The French Flash' repeatedly got to the rim and drew fouls. Bell and Shaq each picked up 2 fouls, giving them each some early time on the bench. Kurt Thomas came out firing on all cylinders, in what would turn out to be a big game for him, finishing the period with 4 points and 5 rebounds.
2Q The Suns would show that they have some problems with turnovers throughout the second, in addition to their free throw woes. Ginobili had a hard time getting anything going, and would ultimately leave with 3 fouls. However, Udoka came off the bench to make several big hustle plays. Udoka and Thomas combined in the first half to produce 11 points and 9 boards. The half would close with San Antonio leading, 54-45, in large part due to the Suns' 11 of 24 charity stripe action, compared with San Antonios' 12 of 12.
3Q Ginobili would continue to struggle in the third, as he seemed to be forcing everything, trying too hard to get something going. Troublesome for San Antonio, was that Shaq was resting on the bench, as the rest of the Suns made a big push and slowly chipped away at the lead. After losing the lead, Oberto would gather a couple baskets to close out the quarter, giving him 8 points. Diaw has slowly been gathering stats throughout the game, with 18 points, 7 boards, 8 assists, and one more quarter to play. Oddly, through 3 quarters, Bowen has seen less than 15 minutes of action.
Most of 4Q Bell would lay a hard foul on Parker, who would recover to drop a sweet dime, while flying under the hoop, to Duncan, only moments later. The fourth would continue to get interesting, as Manu danced into the lane, only to have the rock RIPPED away by Stoudemire under the hoop. Nash would soon hit a leaning 3 to tie it, which was soon accentuated with an Amare rejection on Parker's drive. San Antonio would recover, as Horry poked the ball loose from Nash, and Parker would race down the court, get fouled, making one of two shots.
Closing Moments Phoenix had several HUGE turnovers down the stretch, perhaps none bigger than when they inbounded the ball, only to have Bowen get his hand on it, but being last touched by Nash as it bounced out of bounds. The Spurs would inbound the ball on the other end of the court, off of a risky pass to Manu, who would be fouled and make both shots. The Suns would still get two 3s off before Duncan rebounded, got fouled, and make 1 of his 2 shots. Final score, 92-87, with San Antonio moving on to meet New Orleans in round 2.
Review The score was even closer than it looks, as this game could have easily gone either way. A couple more free throws, and a couple less turnovers, and Phoenix wins this game. San Antonio finally saw some role players step up and make huge plays throughout the game, which they needed as Ginobili struggled to get started. It was surprising to grind this one out with Bowen on the bench so much of the game, but Udoka did an admirable job off the bench, and Parker held his own against Nash on the defensive end. Phoenix simply missed too many free throws, and turned the ball over far too often. The Suns lost by merely 5 despite their turnovers, as San Antonio had many opportunities to put the hammer down throughout the second half, but missed easy shots, and gave up rebounds they should have had.
Duncan: 29 pts, 17 boards, 3 blocks Parker: 31 pts, 8 assists, 13-16 FTs Thomas: 8 pts, 12 boards Nash: 4 major turnovers in closing minutes
Diaw: 22 pts, 8 boards, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block Stoudemire: 15 pts, 11 boards, 3 blocks Bell: 14 pts, 8 boards, 3-5 3 pointers
In a much anticipated game 5, we saw the return of the compelling, down to the wire game that was introduced to us in game 1. After 3 less than dramatic games, both teams came out swinging, and didn't ease up until the final horn.