SAN ANTONIO, April 19 (Ticker) -- Stephon Marbury
left the crowd at the
SBC Center in stunned silence.
NBA TV highlights from|
American Express Play of Day:
Marbury wins it!
Marbury banked in a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer as the
Phoenix Suns shocked the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, 96-95, in
the opener of their Western Conference first round series.
gave the Suns a chance by missing 3-of-4 free throws
in the final moments, including a pair with 5.1 seconds to go.
The Suns grabbed the rebound and got the ball in the hands of
Marbury, who raced up court. With the clock running down, he
pulled up for a runner from just outside the 3-point line at the
top of the key that caromed off the backboard.
The officials counted the basket after briefly reviewing
replays. There was no argument from the Spurs.
"That shot was a teardrop from God," Marbury said. "Things were
getting tough, but I didn't stop shooting. We never gave up,
we never got ourselves into a situation where we'd panic."
"We were in the game, but they did a good job of staying with
us," Duncan added. "We just didn't hit our shots from the
Marbury scored 26 points and Shawn Marion
added 24 and 12
rebounds for the Suns, who showed their success against San
Antonio in the regular season was no fluke. Phoenix won three
of the four meetings, including one here.
Suns coach Frank Johnson admitted his team was extremely
fortunate to come away with the victory.
"Yes, we're excited to come in and steal a game, and that's what
I call it, stealing a game," Johnson said. "You have to be in
position to steal a game. We were fortunate to steal."
The Spurs were nearly unbeatable in the second half of the
season, winning 41 of their last 50 games. But it took just one
game for them to lose home-court advantage.
Poor foul shooting was the Achilles' heel for the Spurs during
the season, and it hurt them in this one as well. San Antonio
made just 26-of-41 free throws.
"Our two nemeses this year are free throws and turnovers," Spurs
coach Gregg Popovich said. "In all our losses, either one or
both of those were the reason we lost."
had 23 points to lead the Spurs, who opened a
12-point lead late in the third quarter but could not shake the
Game Two is Monday at San Antonio.
"We never stopped fighting," Phoenix guard Penny Hardaway
"They missed important free throws down the stretch and we
capitalized. This win was huge for us and it definitely gives
us the momentum."
The Suns grabbed their first lead since early in the first
quarter at 80-79 on Marbury's jumper with two minutes left in
regulation. Duncan's dunk and two free throws by Jackson gave
the Spurs an 83-80 lead with 1:19 to go.
Jackson hit two more from the line to make it 87-87 with 16
seconds left, but Amare Stoudemire
banked in a 3-pointer from
the top of the key with 7.9 seconds remaining to force overtime.
"I saw Marbury getting double-teammed, so I just knew I had to
take that shot," said Stoudemire, who also scored 24 points.
"They didn't expect me to step back and take the three. It was
a shot that I have confidence in. As a team, we know what it
takes to win."
scored 18 points for the Spurs, two shy of his
season high, including a dunk that gave San Antonio a 93-91 lead
with 1:08 left in overtime.
Duncan, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, kept it a
one-possession game by converting just 1-of-2 from the line with
16 seconds to go. The Suns closed within 94-93 on Marbury's
layup with seven seconds remaining.
After San Antonio's Tony Parker
missed the second of two foul
shots a second later, Duncan grabbed a huge offensive rebound
but could not convert from the line.
"They made two great plays down the stretch," said Duncan,
referring to Stoudemire's 3-pointer and Marbury's game-winner.
"You have to want to take that shot and you have to know that
you are going to make it," added Marbury, who was just 9-of-28
from the field. "You dream about that shot and practice it
hundreds of times when you are a kid growing up."
The Spurs shot just 40 percent from the field (32-of-80), making
only 5-of-24 3-pointers.