Notebook: Spurs 97, Suns 87



Posted Feb 24, 2013 11:45 PM

By Mike Tulumello, For NBA.com

THE FACTS: The best in the West played the worst Sunday night, and an upset never was in sight. The San Antonio Spurs breezed to an easy 97-87 road win over the Phoenix Suns. The Spurs moved their NBA-best record to 45-13. They boast the league's best records on the road (23-11) and at home (22-2). The Suns, now with the West's worst record of 18-39, actually led after the first quarter, but the Spurs' starters and limitless bench strength was too much for the Suns' struggling reserves.

And that was even with Tony Parker and Gary Neal sat out for the Spurs.

Nando de Colo started in Parker's place at point guard, but Patty Mills did most of the damage with 16 points in 23 minutes. Kawhi Leonard, passed up in the draft by the Suns two years ago in favor of Markieff Morris, also had 16 points. The Spur thus ended their annual "rodeo" trip 7-2.

For the Suns, Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 rebounds. But Goran Dragic, who has been playing extremely well for the Suns, shot just 3-for-14 for 10 points.

QUOTABLE: "I'm not resting anybody, but a couple of people are out. We're glad the road trip is over, and we're going home. Nine in a row on the road is enough."

-- Spurs coach Greg Popovich on the conclusion of the Spurs' annual "rodeo" trip

THE STAT: Only one Spurs' player, Leonard (33 minutes), played more than 28 minutes.

QUOTABLE II: "A lot of those guys are journeymen and players from lower leagues. [Popovich] has made those guys into assets in this league."

-- Suns coach Lindsey Hunter

TURNING POINT: As soon as the Spurs' slew of reserves entered the game at the start of the second quarter.

QUOTABLE III: "When guys step down because of injury or rest, everyone is read. I just made easy plays, easy passes. It would have been great to get the Warriors' game [Friday night], but in general, it was a great trip."

-- Patty Mills

HOT: Boris Diaw shot 5-for-5 for the Spurs.

NOT: Newly reunited twins Markieff and Marcus Morris combined to shoot 5-for-16 for the Suns.

GOOD MOVE: (From a fans' perspective) The Suns' most productive reserve, Shannon Brown, is the only one who isn't playing as the Suns experiment with unproven backups and --skeptics would say -- position themselves for more lottery balls in the June draft.

BAD MOVE: (From a players' perspective) The Suns' most productive reserve, Shannon Brown, is the only one who isn't playing as the Suns experiment with unproven backups and --skeptics would say -- position themselves for more lottery balls in the June draft.

ROOKIE WATCH: For the Suns, Diante Garrett played nine minutes, shot 0-for-3 and scored a single point. Kendall Marshall played five minutes, shot 1-for-1 and scored three.

NOTABLE: The Spurs now are 77-72 all time in the regular season vs. the Suns.

UP NEXT: For the Spurs, Wednesday vs. Suns, Friday vs. Kings, Sunday vs. Pistons. For the Suns, Tuesday vs. Timberwolves, Wednesday @ San Antonio, Friday vs. Hawks.