The San Antonio Spurs were on the longest losing streak of the Tim Duncan era heading into Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Duncan and crew did not allow the skid to reach seven as the Spurs dominated the Suns from the jump ball to get the 114-97 victory.
San Antonio needed a victory to not only end the losing streak but to gain some momentum for the post season and to give the Los Angeles Lakers a challenge for the top spot in the Western Conference. Once upon a time the Spurs (58-19) had a comfy lead not only on top of the west but the entire league. While the Spurs went on their six game losing streak, the Lakers have been embarrassing any team that comes to the court.
Since the NBA All-Star break, the Lakers are 17-1 and are currently down by only 3-points, 32-29, to the Denver Nuggets with 5:34 left in the second quarter. Needless to say, the Spurs win against the 37-39 Suns was a must have.
A few days ago the Spurs three major players, Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were beat up and looked to be on their last legs. Sunday, all three of them seemed rested and gave solid performances. None of them put up great numbers in the box score but they did what they needed to do to help the Spurs jump out to a large lead and retain it whether it was Duncan blocking a shot to start a fast break, Parker setting up a play to get Matt Bonner an open shot, or Ginobili spreading the defense with the threat of hitting a long ball.
Their efforts helped Bonner earn a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds while George Hill finished with a team high 29 points. Hill was the one who opened the game up for the Spurs with 24 first half points.
The Suns were missing Steve Nash, who sat out with flu like symptoms. Even if Nash was in the game, the Spurs would still have won by at least 10 points. The bigs were snatching every rebound, the bench was knocking down three-pointers unconsciously and the team as a whole was playing sound defense.
San Antonio dominated the Nash-less Suns in rebounds, 51-37, three-point shooting percentage, 51.7%-35.7% and assists, 28-17.
The Suns might as well pack up their bags and stay home because they have no chance of making the playoffs because they’re six games behind the New Orleans Hornets for the eight seed with only six games left to play.
On the other hand, the Spurs need to head into each of their five remaining games with the same intensity and energy they did against the Suns if they want to keep the top spot in the west and the NBA. If I was on the Spurs, I’d much rather play a Hornets team without David West than the seven seed Memphis Grizzlies without Rudy Gay.
The Hornets only have Chris Paul while the Grizzlies have an inside duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol that can match the size and strength of the Spurs front line. Also, it doesn’t hurt the Grizzlies to have one of the best perimeter defenders in the league with Tony Allen and a talented scorer in O.J. Mayo coming off the bench.
San Antonio needs to approach every game as if it’s against Phoenix because Los Angeles is coming strong and fast for that number one spot, Ludacris style.