Kawhi Leonard scored a career high 38 points tonight, but that wasn't the story of the night as Devin Booker went wild in the fourth quarter and ended up outscoring him by a point as he led the Suns to a win. The key to the game was the Suns' 17-1 run spanning the late third and much of the fourth. Luckily or unluckily, I actually missed watching that part of the game when a computer power supply burned up, causing a lot of smoke, but no fire. So that was luck, I guess.
Lamarcus Aldridge started off the scoring for the good guys, but the Suns rushed to a 9-4 lead with crisp ball movement and crisp shooting. After an offensive rebound led to an easy Tyson Chandler basket, Gregg Popovich called timeout to get his team in order. After another Spurs turnover, obviously unhappy with the effort, Pop put in a hockey line change just three minutes into the game. The juice unit didn't have an immediate impact, but Manu drew a foul on a three point attempt to bring the score to within a basket. Then Dewayne Dedmon stole the ball from Chandler and found his inner Kawhi, driving the length of the court for a layin to tie the score at 11. The Suns big men were able to get to the basket on their end, but the Spurs guards were able to match their scoring for the Silver and Black, and Tony Parker got into the act with a deep three to beat the shot clock. Tony tied the score with 12 seconds left losing his man for a layup under the basket. Tyler Ulis shot rimmed out at the buzzer, and the score was tied at 25-25 after one quarter.
Tony Parker put the Spurs ahead to start the second with a triple. And then he stole Leandro Barbosa's pass and put the Spurs up by five. Earl Watson had seen enough and called timeout just 40 seconds into the quarter. Eric Bledsoe got an open look at the three point line and sank it to cut into the lead out of the timeout. But the Spurs put in a funky lineup with no one at the point and Kawhi and extended the lead. Kyle Anderson entered the game and sank a triple to give the Spurs a double digit lead. But after a couple of foul shots from Bledsoe and a high-risk pass from Manu Ginobili later, the Suns cut the lead to half dozen. Bryn Forbes got into the act with a three-point shot and then Kawhi on a fast break and-one restored the double digit lead for the good guys. The Suns kept up the pressure, but Kawhi got free on a drive and dunk to keep the Suns at arm's length. He makes spectacular plays look almost routine, somehow. The Suns guards were able to draw fouls to keep the game from getting out of hand, and the Spurs led 58-51 after two quarters.
The Suns opened the scoring in the second half by turning an offensive rebound into an open three point shot for Devin Booker. After another Booker basket cut the lead to a pair, Popovich called timeout, just one minute into the quarter. Out of the timeout, a Kawhi drive to the basket and a foul from Chandler stretched the lead to five. TJ Warren got hot for the Suns and drew them back to three on a couple of occasions, but he also had to guard Kawhi Leonard, and couldn't keep up, as he extended the lead to eight halfway through the quarter with pretty moves in the paint to get just enough space get off a shot. The Suns started to show a little fatigue and committed some careless fouls. The Spurs also looked a little gassed, with unforced turnovers and missed shots. But Lamarcus was on-target and so was Bender for the Suns as the teams traded baskets and the lead stayed in the 8-10 point range. A Manu Ginobili drive to the basket and a buzzer beater three from PJ Tucker ended the third and the score was 85-80 in the Spurs favor after three.
The Spurs turned over the ball to start the fourth, and a Tyler Ulis basket cut the lead to three. Then Tony Parker fell awkwardly and grabbed his thigh, and the night started to be a whole lot less fun for Spurs fans. Bryn Forbes came in to replace him, but Booker hit a pair of free throws to give the Suns the lead. Coincidentally, at this point in the game I began to smell something burning and had to track down the source. Fried power supply on my desktop computer in the office. Had to disconnect the power cord and open up all of the windows, but nothing was actually on fire. Back to the recap.
Came back to find Tony Parker back in the game, [whew!] and the Spurs down by eight. But almost immediately, David Lee hit a layup to stop the bleeding. After a Ulis basket, Manu got fouled on a three point attempt, hit all three and the Spurs were down 98-94. Kawhi got fouled on the next trip and the Spurs had cut the deficit to two points. Then the Suns missed a shot, and Kawhi proved unstoppable as he split the defense one on three and knotted it up at 98.
A Tyson Chandler putback put the Suns up by two. After a few empty trips, Parker hit a jumper to tie it up. A questionable goaltending call put the Suns up by a basket, but Kawhi answered with a triple of the inbounds play to put the Spurs up by a point with just over a minute left. The frenetic Suns defense turned over Kawhi and Booker hit a pair of free throws to put Phoenix up one. Another Spurs turnover led to a Booker breakaway and the Suns led by three.
PJ Tucker's foul on a Leonard three point attempt allowed the Spurs to cut the lead to a point, and they defended the Suns and got the ball back with 14 seconds left. Crisp ball movement led to an open three point attempt for Danny Green with 6 seconds left. But he missed, and the Spur had to foul. After a pair of Tucker free throws, the Suns lead was three with just under 5 seconds left.
The Spurs advanced the ball, but Earl Watson smartly had his team foul Gasol, which put him at the free throw line.
- The lighting in the arena there is pretty weird. Players seemed to have a problem tracking the ball on rebounds, especially at the start of the game.
- The video feed from the game was pretty bad, with a lot of compression artifacts
- Some people have been clamoring for Kyle Anderson to play point guard. Well, today it happened early in the game because both Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray were out with injuries. Spoiler: he wasn't bad.
- In the second quarter the Spurs played a no point guard lineup with Simmons playing point. They extended the lead.
- When Parker had his injury scare early in the fourth, the Suns went on a run led by Booker. That was when it would have been good to have an experienced backup guard to take over. Forbes isn't a point guard, and the Spurs offense got stagnant when he was in.
- Lamarcus Aldridge is pretty good:
Final thoughts and looking ahead
The Spurs don't play again until Tuesday at 7:30 when the face the Timberpups in San Antonio. They're just the kind of team that can give the Spurs some trouble because they're young and talented, although inexperienced. For my part, I've got to head to the computer store and pick up another power supply.