Spurs head home with 2-0 series lead

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

PHOENIX -- The only way Tim Duncan's aching ankles are going to feel better is with rest, and the only way he'll get it is if the San Antonio Spurs sweep the Western Conference finals.

Thanks to Duncan, they're halfway there.

And they're heading back to San Antonio, where the Phoenix Suns -- this season's best road team -- will have to deal with a 2-0 series deficit against the NBA's toughest team at home.

Duncan scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half and Manu Ginobili and Robert Horry made key baskets in the last 2:33, giving the Spurs a 111-108 victory over the Suns on Tuesday night.

Steve Nash and the Suns took it to the buzzer, though, getting a chance to force overtime when Ginobili missed one of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left. Nash took the inbounds pass and raced up the court, getting a step past Tony Parker but being picked up by defensive ace Bruce Bowen just before shooting a 3-pointer on the run.

It was on line but short, hitting the front rim to seal Phoenix's first consecutive losses since April 8 and 9. Suns coach Mike D'Antoni grimaced, and Nash walked off blank-faced and spent from playing 46 minutes, comforted in the arms of teammate Jake Voskuhl.

"I just tried to stay in front of him," Parker said.

The Suns are in an unenviable position: No NBA team has lost the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home this deep into the playoffs and still advanced. Four teams have rallied from 0-2 in the conference finals or NBA Finals, but all were headed home for the third and fourth games.

The Spurs are thrilled to be going home, too, as they're 43-4 in San Antonio. The only solace for the Suns is that they won the most road games in the NBA this season and they might have third-leading scorer Joe Johnson back for the next game, on Saturday night.

"You never know, especially with these guys," Ginobili said. "The way they shoot, they don't care where they play."

Ginobili scored 26 points and Parker had 24 and five assists. Nazr Mohammed had 11, and Horry scored 10, with three 3-pointers.

Amare Stoudemire had 37 points and eight rebounds for Phoenix, and Nash had 29 points and 15 assists. He became the first player in playoff history to have four straight 25-10 games, breaking a tie with Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan.

Although Quentin Richardson had 18 points and three 3-pointers, matching his total for the last four games, and Shawn Marion got a little bit back on track by scoring 11 points, the Suns were driven by Nash and Stoudemire. They powered runs of 13-0, 11-0 and 10-0, each taking Phoenix from behind to ahead, helping them carry a five-point lead into the fourth quarter.

But Duncan and the Spurs turned it on at the end, just as they did when they wiped out a six-point deficit after three quarters in the opener.

Duncan opened it with a hook, then two free throws. There was a putback of Parker's miss, a dunk and a long jumper, giving him 10 of the Spurs' first 12 points in the quarter.

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