Mohammed Dominates Inside, Spurs Top Suns
San Antonio 108, Phoenix 102
SAN ANTONIO, March 17 (Ticker) -- Nazr Mohammed's big game showed the value of a big man.
Mohammed had a career-high 30 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs dominated the offensive boards in the fourth quarter and held on for a 108-102 victory over the smaller, quicker Phoenix Suns.
"It was a good win for us against a very good basketball team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought Timmy was a steady rock for us the entire game. Nazr was stupendous in a lot of ways."
The run-and-gun Suns went with a small lineup and tried to beat the Spurs with their quickness. But they were vulnerable on the backboards, where they grabbed 21 defensive rebounds and allowed the Spurs 26 offensive boards.
"They're always small," Duncan said. "They spread the floor, they shoot the ball. It's the way they play the game and we have to counter that any way we can. We got some incredible play from Nazr. We hit the glass and got a stop here and there. You add up those little plays and things just kind of happen. It was a good night for us."
Leading the way was the 6-10 Mohammed, who made 13-of-21 shots as he matched his career high set Nov. 5, 2001 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. He also had eight rebounds on the offensive end and was a huge factor in the fourth quarter.
"I'm definitely happy with my performance," Mohammed said. "I know that coming into this game, I knew I had to come out and get something done, because they play such a small lineup. If you don't, us bigs will sit on the bench watching. It's either start early and play the rest of the game or just watch."
A dunk by Mohammed ended a possession where the Spurs had five chances and opened a 90-85 lead with 8:59 to go.
After a three-point play by Steve Nash cut the deficit to 94-92 with 5:26 left, Tony Parker made a jumper and Mohammed put home a second-chance hoop for a 98-92 advantage with 3:50 left.
The Suns also gambled in daring Parker to shoot jumpers and paid when the All-Star guard drilled two in a row to turn a three-point lead into a 102-95 bulge with 1:51 to play.
"I thought Tony did a great job of really stepping it up when he wasn't having a very good game," Popovich said. "Down the stretch in the fourth quarter he really stepped up on both ends of the court and did a great job for us."
Mohammed scored inside to keep the lead at six points with 1:02 left. After a layup by Nash, Duncan - who had nine offensive rebounds - tipped in his own miss to seal it at 106-100 with 19 seconds remaining.
"It's tough to go in there against those guys," Suns forward Boris Diaw said. "We've got to double-team, so that makes it tougher because that's where they got a lot of second chance shots off the offensive rebounds."
Manu Ginobili scored 14 points and Parker and Michael Finley added 13 apiece for the Spurs, who shot 49 percent (45-of-92) and beat the Suns for the third time in four meetings this season.
En route to the NBA title last season, San Antonio defeated Phoenix in five games in the conference finals.
Nash scored 30 points and Shawn Marion added 22 and 12 rebounds for the Suns (45-20), who matched last season's loss total but still hold a comfortable lead atop the Pacific Division as they target the second seed in the West.
"We have the ability to play at a high level, but tonight it just wasn't there," Nash said. "We missed little things like hustle plays and calls here and there. We just do a tiny bit better with each one of those and they add up to six more points."