Parker, Spurs End Sunsí 11-Game Win Streak
San Antonio 117, Phoenix 93
PHOENIX, March 9 (Ticker) -- Tony Parker knows a good opportunity when he sees one.
With his counterpart Steve Nash sidelined, Parker looked at ease in collecting all 29 of his points in the first three quarters as the San Antonio Spurs posted a 117-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns, who had won 11 straight.
To make matters worse for the Suns, Leandro Barbosa, Nash's backup, was out with a right groin injury, forcing coach Mike D'Antoni to revert to a shuffled lineup that featured shooting guard Raja Bell at the point, reserve swingman James Jones making his 13th start of the season and 6-8 Boris Diaw at center.
"We went big and small with our lineups and I was a little half-crazy tonight and that didn't help," D'Antoni said. Phoenix fell to 2-6 without Nash dating to last season. "That was a tough game for us, especially with Steve out and then learning that Leandro was out," said Bell, who had 15 points and three steals. "That was pretty tough."
Parker took advantage throughout, scoring with little resistance as the Spurs finished their road trip 2-1 with their eighth win in nine games. He had 18 points at halftime as San Antonio grabbed a 64-50 lead and stayed hot after the break to fight off a comeback attempt by the hosts.
After burying a jumper to give the Spurs a 79-58 advantage midway through the third quarter, the Suns went on an 11-2 run to get within 12 points. But Parker hit a 22-footer with 1:55 left - San Antonio's first field goal in over four minutes - to end the burst and the Spurs finished the period on an 8-2 spurt.
"I'm just trying to improve," said Parker, who hit a number of jumpers. "Every time I play Phoenix they are going to let me shoot every time from the outside, so I just try to make them pay." The 6-2 Parker entered among the NBA leaders in points in the paint and is showcasing an impressive inside-outside attack. "He's worked on his game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his point guard. "He's put in a lot of time and he's more confident in his shot. Not having Steve (Nash) and about nine other guys makes a difference."
San Antonio's lead reached 25 points late in the fourth and Phoenix was held under 100 for the first time in 22 games. It was the longest such streak in the NBA since the Spurs had an identical run during the 1994-95 season. "They are a championship team and they are the ones to beat," D'Antoni said. "Our goals are to get up to them but things went haywire tonight. We are not at the level of San Antonio but we are getting there and we are pretty good."
It marked the second straight season that the Spurs (47-14), who own the best 61-game record in franchise history, ended the Suns' 11-game winning streak in Phoenix. They did so December 28, 2004 with a 115-94 triumph here. Manu Ginobili had 18 points and Tim Duncan 16 for San Antonio, which shot 55 percent (48-of-87) from the floor and had 30 assists against eight turnovers. It remained in a tie with Dallas atop the Southwest Division and 5 1/2 games ahead of Phoenix (42-18) in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference.
"It's not easy to win here, and sometimes when a team is lacking their best players it's not great," Ginobili said. "You can get overconfident and the other team can step up and have a very emotional game. We really took care of business and I'm proud of that."
Shawn Marion led five Suns in double figures with 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Diaw narrowly missed his second triple-double in three games and third this season with 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.