Work in Sports
Phoenix stuns San Antonio to steal Game 1
Posted: Sunday April 23, 2000 01:50 AM
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Phoenix Suns were able to do more with less than the San Antonio Spurs.
In a game that tied an NBA playoff record for fewest points, Cliff Robinson and Penny Hardaway each scored 17 points and Corie Blount hit three free throws in the closing seconds as the Suns opened the first-round series with a 72-70 victory Saturday.
The 142 points tied the playoff record set by Atlanta and Detroit on May 12, 1999. Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday night at the Alamodome.
"This was a big confidence boost for us, especially the way we ended the season," Robinson said. "To come in here and beat this team gives us confidence going into Game 2.
"If we get the next one, we can close it out in Phoenix."
Neither team played at full strength. San Antonio's Tim Duncan, the MVP of last year's NBA Finals, missed the game because of torn cartilage in his left knee. Phoenix guard Jason Kidd is still recovering from a broken ankle.
"Our offense couldn't get it done on a consistent basis, and that hurt us," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "The free-throw situation obviously was not good. If we had taken care of business at the line, we would have been in good shape."
The defending champion Spurs were 12-for-21 at the line.
Phoenix led 41-35 at the half, and opened the third quarter with an 11-6 run to make it 52-41. But the Spurs didn't wilt, going on a 16-4 run that gave them a 57-56 lead with 10:34 left in the game.
"This is the kind of game we've played against San Antonio all year," Suns coach Scott Skiles said. "It's an ugly yet exciting game. We both seem to shoot under 40 percent. We won, and I'm happy about that."
It still wasn't over until Rodney Rogers stole an inbounds pass with seven-tenths of a second left to kill the Spurs' final chance.
Phoenix got the lead for good with 1:24 left on a basket by Rogers, who scored 15 points. Blount, a 49-percent free-throw shooter during the regular season, hit two free throws with 48 seconds showing for a 71-68 lead.
San Antonio center David Robinson's layup made it 71-70, and Blount hit another free throw with one second remaining.
"I was happy to make those free throws," Blount said. "Once you get in that situation, you want to come through. Once you sit on the bench, you see what needs to be done when you get into the game. When you get the call, you'd better be ready."
Sean Elliott led San Antonio with 15 points, and Samaki Walker had 13 points and 16 rebounds. Robinson was 3-for-12 from the field and finished with 11 points.
"They did a great job. They double-teamed me," David Robinson said. "We have to make adjustments. We need guys to step up. We need to find a better way to be effective."
After trailing most of the first half, the Suns went on a 20-9 run over the final seven minutes of the second quarter for a 41-35 lead at the half after both teams got off to cold shooting starts.
The Spurs hit only two of their first 14 shots, and Phoenix opened 3-for-14.
David Robinson was called for two fouls in the first seven minutes of the game, and the Spurs had to rely on Walker, who had nine rebounds and seven points in the first quarter. Walker averaged 3.8 rebounds in the regular season.
Hardaway had eight points in the Suns' second quarter charge to their halftime lead.
Notes: Spurs forward Jerome Kersey is making his 15th playoff
appearance, tied for second for most appearances among active
players. Only Utah's John Stockton (16) has reached more playoffs.
... The Suns are 10-9 in first-round series and have lost in the
first round the past four seasons.