Ginobili leads Spurs past SunsPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Manu Ginobili made 18 free throws without a miss and finished with 30 points and nine rebounds, and Tony Parker added 26 points in the San Antonio Spurs' 114-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
The victory was the Spurs' 29th in a row when they score 100 or more points - 14 last season and 15 this season.
The game was close through three quarters, before a 9-2 run early in the fourth period gave the Spurs a 12-point lead. The Suns cut it to 107-104 with 1:05 remaining, but Parker's field goal and Ginobili's five free throws closed out the scoring.
Tim Duncan added 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Roger Mason, whose 3-point buzzer-beater gave San Antonio a one-point victory over Phoenix on Christmas, had 12 points.
Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Grant Hill had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Steve Nash finished with 16 points and 18 assists, and Shaquille O'Neal and Matt Barnes each scored 13 points. It was the first time in 20 games that O'Neal failed to score at least 15 points.
The first half, which ended 57-57, was filled with notable milestones, heated play. unusually high scoring when these teams meet and immaculate ballhandling.
During the half, Nash had nine assists, passing Suns coach Terry Porter for 11th place on the NBA's career list. Nash's seventh assist gave him 7,161, one more than Porter. O'Neal, who had eight points in the half, moved into seventh place on the scoring list, passing Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal sixth point him O'Neal 26,947, one ahead of Olajuwon.
The heated play was reflected in that four technical fouls were called, three against the Suns, each of which Mason converted. The high scoring was mostly the result of an uptempo first period, which ended with San Antonio leading 32-31. Usually when these teams face each other, it's a low-scoring affair, but both teams' sharp ballhandling led to the big point production.
The Suns, one of the league's worst offenders in turnovers, did not have a turnover in the first two quarters. San Antonio only had five turnovers, one in the first period.
By halftime, when there were 12 ties and 11 lead changes, five players were in double figures. Duncan led the Spurs with 13 points, Ginobili had 12 and Parker 10. Stoudemire topped the Suns with 14 and Nash had 12, including a 3-pointer from 26 feet just before halftime that tied it.
The third period, which finished with San Antonio leading 89-84, was marked by a parade to the free throw line by the Spurs. Overall, the Spurs converted 17 of 20 foul shots, including nine in a row by Ginobili, to the Suns' three of three.
Surprisingly, the Suns started fouling Bruce Bowen intentionally - similar to the Spurs' often-used strategy of Hack-A-Shaq against O'Neal. Bowen, who had made only two of eight from the line this season, was 5-for-6 during the quarter.
Again, the ballhandling was near flawless, with San Antonio committing just one turnover and the Suns their first three of the game.
Notes:@ The Suns had not played a home game since Jan. 16. ... It was San Antonio's third straight road game, and the Spurs will play nine of their next 10 games away from home during their annual Rodeo Road Trip (the only home game during that stretch is Saturday against New Orleans). ... The Spurs' Michael Finley has played in 282 consecutive games.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)