The Spurs went into Phoenix attempting to close out the rodeo road trip with a victory and add to their four-game winning streak, but came up short. And by "came up short," I mean they got utterly dismantled in the 2nd quarter and could never find their footing after that.
The 1st quarter gave us a tease that the Spurs were going to finish this already successful RRT strong. After the Suns built and early lead, San Antonio began to show some feistiness and emotion, starting with Popovich. With 4:42 left to go in the 1st, Pop felt strongly about a traveling call that was missed near the Spurs' bench and felt the ref needed his (undoubtedly) kind words. Pop continued to do so until a technical foul was awarded, forcing his assistant coaches to run out and reel him back in. This started a mini rally by San Antonio, and it was Matt Bonner's jump hook in the paint with about 3:00 to go in the 1st that gave them the lead 17-16, which was soon added to with a put-back by Splitter. With the clock winding down in the quarter, Phoenix attempted to get a last second run at the basket, but lead to a tussle around mid court which turned into a Patty Mills steal and a Manu Ginobili score with two seconds left. The Spurs headed into the 2nd quarter with the lead, 23-19.
It was then, at the end of the 1st quarter, that we last saw any semblance of a San Antonio Spurs basketball team on Friday night. Splitter got an early bucket with 11:39 left in the 2nd quarter, but after that, the Spurs wouldn't score for the next 6 minutes and 28 seconds of game time, which was an eternity in real time. Within this 6:28 drought, the Suns went on a 19-0 run. Nothing was falling for San Antonio, passes were sailing out of bounds or in defenders' hands, Dragic and Ish Smith continued to quickly move the ball down the court on rebounds and turnovers, and the Suns simply took advantage of a squad that played like they were on their ninth straight road game.
Duncan would finally lay in a bucket with 5:11 to go in the half in order to end the dry spell. Timmy's bucket made it 38-27, but that 11 point Spurs deficit could have just as been a 30 point hole based on the look on the players' faces. The damage was done, the Spurs were exhausted, and they limped into the locker room down 47-35.
Diaw, Belinelli, Duncan, Green, and Joseph started the 2nd half in an effort to get some points on the board to close the gap, but the Suns were able to push it even further apart, achieving their biggest lead of the night, so far, in just the first 3 minutes of the half. With 5:30 left in the 3rd, when it looked like nothing was going to work against this Phoenix Suns team, Popovich emptied the bench and placed his starters on the bench for the rest of the night. The white flag was being theoretically waved. Their road trip was over.
At the end of it all, this game won't diminish what the Spurs have been able to do over these past nine road games, given the "variety of maladies" this team has had to endure. They finished the RRT with the best road record in the NBA, got two quality wins over playoff teams, still remain in second place in the West, and await two starters' returns from injuries. The Spurs head back home to San Antonio healthier than they were when they left it, and along with that comes a more comfortable future.
- San Antonio averages 48.8 percent field-goal shooting and 38 percent from three-point land on the season, but shot an ice cold 35 percent on field goals and 10(!) percent from deep against Phoenix. Oddly enough, they shot 93 percent from the free-throw line where they normally shoot 77.8 percent.
- After being completely on fire in his previous games, Patty Mills had a rough night in Phoenix. He scored only four points, going 2-14 from the field, including 0-6 from three-point range. Mills played a good amount of garbage time, and looked to get up any shot he could late in the game which lead to quite a bit of rushed attempts. He missed his first six shots, getting three of them blocked.
- Throughout most of the game, Tim Duncan (13 pts, 5 rebs) looked to be the only oasis of hope for the Spurs offense and I'm not quite sure why they didn't attempt to feed him down low more often. While Timmy was appearing to have his way with Plumlee and a Morris twin, San Antonio continued to settle for contested jumper after contested jumper during their drought.
- You know the whole team was struggling to make baskets when you see that Marco Belinelli went 1-8 from the field. He finished the game with 10 points, but that's because he was able to draw some fouls and go 8-8 from the line. Phoenix's defense was everywhere tonight, and Marco was just another victim.
- Goran Dragic, who had scored at least 15 points in his last 25 games and is normally the Suns' biggest threat, was held to only eight points against the Spurs. He got into foul trouble, including an offensive foul on a layup attempt that somehow involved a karate kick to Ginobili's thigh, but didn't look to be needed that much down the stretch, so we can go ahead and attest his low scoring that.
- Ish Smith scored a season high 15 points in the game, and actually tied his season high in the 2nd quarter alone.
- Patty Mills sent an errant pass to no one in particular and flew right in the hands of Popovich. The game was already going so poorly at that point that Pop asked the official if he could shoot it. He couldn't have come up any more dry than some of his players were.
The Spurs get to head back to San Antonio, finally, and don't play until Wednesday where they will take on the Detroit Pistons. There are some rumblings that Kawhi Leonard is expected to be back for that game, so look forward to getting another piece back into uniform. Wednesday is also Kawhi Leonard bobble head night!
For the opponent's perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.