Fast Breaks: Suns-Spurs, Game 2
The Spurs played much better than in Game 1, but lost by almost the same score
The Suns received a boost from Jared Dudley and Channing Frye off the bench
The Spurs need to win Game 3 or the series will essentially be over
Remember February, when the Suns were thisclose to breaking up their roster? Well, neither do they. "Los Suns," as they were known on Wednesday, moved one step closer to their first conference finals appearance since 2006, beating San Antonio 110-102 on Wednesday to seize a 2-0 series lead.
Now this was a disheartening loss. Tim Duncan (29 points, 10 rebounds) played well. Richard Jefferson (18 points, 10 rebounds) played well. Tony Parker (20 points, seven assists) played well. Manu Ginobili (11 points, 11 assists) and George Hill (14 points) were decent. The Spurs shot 50.6 percent from the floor -- while holding the Suns to 42.4 percent -- and 38.9 percent from the three-point line. As opposed to Game 1, when Jefferson and Hill were non-factors, San Antonio played a solid all-around game ... and lost by a nearly identical score. The Spurs will review the film and try to make corrections before Game 3 -- but this was one they let slip away.
Phoenix's bench was huge. Both Alvin Gentry and Gregg Popovich praised the Suns' bench play in Game 2, with Popovich singling out Jared Dudley's effort in the first half and Channing Frye in the second. Dudley gave Phoenix an infusion of energy, pulling down four offensive rebounds and finishing with 11 points.
"Jared Dudley changed the whole game," Popovich said. "He came in and was a monster."
Frye knocked down 5-of-6 three-point attempts, finishing with 15 points. He also chipped in some tough defense on Duncan down the stretch, banging bodies with him and preventing easy entry passes.
"We did a pretty good job of getting back to him and contesting those shots, and he still knocked them down," Duncan said. "That was the difference in the game."
Matt Bonner has been useless. Bonner's ineffectiveness goes beyond the numbers, if that's possible. Bonner followed up a two-point performance in Game 1 with a zero-point effort (on 0-of-4 shooting) on Wednesday. The Suns look like they are licking their chops when Bonner is in the game; he doesn't help the Spurs unless he's making shots, because he's not big or strong enough to battle with Phoenix's forwards underneath. For the second straight game the Spurs were obliterated on the boards (49-37) and gave up a demoralizing 18 offensive rebounds. Bonner's ex-teammate Brent Barry believes Bonner will settle down once the series shifts to Texas. But if he doesn't, it might be time for Popovich to gamble and extend rookie DeJuan Blair's minutes more in the backup role.
Manu Ginobili needs to be more aggressive. The Spurs can't win if Ginobili takes only eight shots. Ginobili averaged 12 attempts in the regular season and 14.8 through the first seven games of the playoffs. True, Ginobili's shot was off (he made only two), but he is perhaps the only player on the roster who can create off the dribble and finish at the rim. He needs to shoot more. Period.
Game 3 becomes a must win. Duh, right? The Spurs have too much experience to fold, especially when they haven't played a game on their home floor yet. But no NBA team has climbed out of a 3-0 deficit and the Suns are playing too well offensively for the Spurs to afford to dig that kind of hole. Popovich and Co. are going to have to find some way of keeping the Suns out of the paint and off the line (37 free-throw attempts in Game 2).
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