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Marquee matchup

Suns, Spurs look to send messages in showdown

Posted: Monday March 7, 2005 1:29PM; Updated: Tuesday March 8, 2005 4:40PM
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It might have been the NBA's best game of the season so far. The last time the Spurs and Suns hooked up, Jan. 21 in Phoenix, Manu Ginobili scored a career-high 48 points and San Antonio rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in OT. The hard-fought contest also included a buzzer-beating double-clutch three-pointer by Suns forward Shawn Marion to force the extra session.

On Wednesday these two NBA heavyweights meet up again in Phoenix for the third and final time this season. The healthier Suns have taken over the top spot in this week's Power Rankings, but they're still 0-2 against the Spurs this season. They will be looking to send a message. San Antonio just hopes Tim Duncan (ankle) will be ready to play. It should be a good game, and maybe a preview of the Western Conference finals.

This week's high riser: MAGIC (No. 12 from 19)

This week's big drop: PACERS (No. 20 from 10)

NBA Power Rankings
Rank LW Team
1 2
Phoenix Suns (46-14)
They rallied from 10 down in the fourth to cool off the Pistons last Thursday, then won another biggie at Seattle on Sunday. Now they'll turn their focus to Wednesday's visit from the Spurs.
2 1 Despite four straight W's after Sunday's victory over the Jazz, they haven't been playing their best ball of late. Plus, Tim Duncan (ankle) and Nazr Mohammed (groin) are hobbling.
3 3 Sunday's loss to the Suns snapped a three-game win streak, but a 6-2 record since the All-Star break proves they still belong. Meanwhile, they have all but wrapped up the Northwest Division title.
4 5
Miami Heat (37-17)
What do you get Shaq for his 33rd birthday? How about Alonzo Mourning as a backup? Shaq celebrated the big day Sunday by leading them past the Cavs to make it five straight wins and 12 of 14 overall.
5 7 Despite injuries to Brad Miller (calf) and Cuttino Mobley (back), they beat the Pistons on Sunday to snap a three-game losing skid. With eight of their next 10 at Arco Arena, it could be a springboard.
6 6 Consecutive road losses at Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento have tempered the excitement of that eight-game win streak. But at least Elden Campbell is back to restore some more of that championship look.
7 9 Mike James has helped pick up the slack at point guard for the injured Bob Sura, but they remain inconsistent. With road dates this week at Seattle, Phoenix and Sacramento, they need to get tougher.
8 4 Hurry back, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley and Erick Dampier. Without those injured stars, they were held to 69 points in Sunday's loss in Houston, their lowest total in six years.
9 16 So far, so good for new coach George Karl. Saturday's win over the Clippers ran their win streak to a season-long six games as they continue to close in on the Lakers for the No. 8 spot in the West.
10 8 They beat the Raptors on Friday to give coach Mike Fratello his 600th career victory. But Pau Gasol (foot) remains out indefinitely, and a four-game Western road trip awaits them this week.
11 14 They're hoping Antawn Jamison (sore knee) can play Tuesday in New York. The All-Star forward currently owns the longest consecutive games streak (386) among active players.
12 19 Doug Christie (ankle) is likely out for the year, but don't count them out just yet. Suddenly the Jameer Nelson-Steve Francis backcourt is clicking, and they'd won three straight through Sunday.
13 12 They're still adjusting to Chris Webber, as evidenced by Saturday's near-disaster in Atlanta. But at week's end they had won three of four, and Willie Green was back to shore up their backcourt depth.
14 18 Without Sam Cassell (hamstring) and Michael Olowokandi (knee), they beat the Celtics on Sunday in Kevin McHale's return to Boston as a coach. McHale is now 5-4 since taking over for Flip Saunders.
15 15 Gary Payton is back, and Antoine Walker has his old No. 8 jersey again (thanks to rookie Al Jefferson). But Sunday's loss to the T'wolves ended their four-game win streak since 'Toine's arrival.