The Austin Chronicle

Musings From the Mezzanine, Second Half:
Spurs vs. Suns, Game 3

By Dave Mann and Josh Rosenblatt, May 13, 2007, 12:38am, The Score

Halfway through the third quarter, the Suns probably wish they’d stayed in the locker room. Amare Stoudemire’s on the bench with four fouls, Steve Nash has one freakin' point – and one bruised groin, courtesy of Bruce Bowen - and Spurs sharpshooter Brent Barry (who was deep in a conversation about the latest episode of Lost with Beno Udrih until a minute ago) has stepped on the floor and hit a three within 20 seconds to spark a 9-0 run. Things are turning.

Toward the end of the period, Nash takes a perfect, textbook charge after a San Antonio pick-and-roll and is rewarded with a face full of Tim Duncan, an ass full of parquet, and his third foul. More importantly, had the play been called correctly, Duncan would have picked up his fourth foul, with almost five minutes left to play in the third. In the NBA playoffs, justice is often an elusive mistress.

Manu Ginobli! Bloodied eye, battered pride – no matter. The last two minutes of the third quarter were all his. A couple of layups, two three-pointers, some good old-fashioned South American grit.
Ginobli! Loved in San Antonio as a daredevil, loathed everywhere else as an inveterate flopper. The most divisive Argentine since Eva Peron.
Ginobli! What a great player he’d be if only he bothered showing up for away games.

At the end of the third quarter: Spurs 80, Suns 72.

Before a strong fourth quarter – which was too little, too late – Nash struggled most of the game. Credit Bruce Bowen’s defense. On each possession, Bowen has been picking up Nash far out on the floor, well above the three-point arc. It’s forcing Nash to work extremely hard to penetrate the lane or even get the Suns into their offense. It’s also nudging the Phoenix pick and roll further away from the basket – which means jump shots instead of dunks.

Final score: Spurs 108, Suns 101.

Now we can go home, back to Austin, content in the knowledge that, once again, we managed to escape San Antonio without seeing the River Walk.

Until Monday …

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