The Phoenix Suns took the regular season series 3-1 over the San Antonio Spurs.
This same Suns squad had an eight point halftime lead in Game One of their opening round playoff series, beating the Spurs at their own game, only to see the Spurs turn the tables on them in the second half and overtime behind Tim Duncan’s 40-point, 15-rebound performance.
In Game Two, the Suns shot over 60% in the first half and racked up 61 points by halftime, including 35 in the first quarter, only to see their offense dry up in the second half en route to a 102-96 defeat at the hands of the Spurs.
The trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker were huge once again for San Antonio in Game Two, netting 18, 29, and 32 respectively. Duncan also added 17 rebounds and three blocked shots.
In the first half, the Spurs trio was responsible for the overwhelming majority of the offense, as Phoenix kept the Spurs’ role players from making any significant contributions until the second half.
However, the second half mainly demonstrated the lack of depth on the Suns’ roster.
Grant Hill only played 20 minutes over the course of the game, nursing a sore groin, and was kept off of the scoreboard. Leandro Barbosa did not step up to the occasion in Hill’s absence and was also kept off of the scoreboard.
The trade for Shaquille O’Neal meant that the Suns had to part ways with Shawn Marion, a guy who has averaged over 18 points per game over the course of his career, and is a top-notch defensive player.
Many feared that the O’Neal trade would hamper Phoenix’s run-and-gun style of play. The Spurs made sure of this by employing the infamous “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy in the third quarter. O’Neal had made 5-of-6 free throws at one point during the stretch, but finished at his customary 50% going 7-for-14 from the stripe.
Perhaps more importantly, it took the Suns out of their rhythm and allowed the Spurs to play a more comfortable and controlled half-court style of play.
The Suns whittled a double-digit deficit down to five in the fourth quarter but were unable to sink any shots during the closing seconds to give themselves a chance to leave San Antonio with a win under their belts.
Game Three will take place Friday night in Phoenix with San Antonio maintaining their home court advantage with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.