Phoenix 100, San Antonio 95

SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 17 (AP) -- Nobody on the Phoenix Suns team was talking about revenge on Monday night.

After all, this is still the early part of the regular season and their 100-95 win over the San Antonio Spurs may not mean much come playoff time.

But the teams' first meeting of the year came with plenty of baggage, and by winning, not to mention handing the Spurs their first home loss of this season, Phoenix could claim a little bit of revenge for what was a controversial and disappointing end to last season.

Even if they weren't going to talk about it.

"Obviously this is a big win for us," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's a good one to take home with us."

Grant Hill scored 22 points for the Suns and Leandro Barbosa added 18 in what was a close game to the end.

"It definitely was fun to play the last few minutes. High intensity. The fans were up and at it," said Amare Stoudemire, who had 17 points for Phoenix. "A playoff atmosphere. If you get a playoff atmosphere game in December, you know it's fun to play."

Tim Duncan scored a season-high 36 points and grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds for San Antonio, which is now 13-1 at home. It was Duncan's second game back since sitting out for four with a sprained ankle.

"He needed a game like this," said Manu Ginobili, who added 18 points for San Antonio. "He did everything he could to make us win this game. ... It was frustrating for us not to help him get the win."

But the Spurs were without point guard Tony Parker, who sat out his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.

"I thought it was a good win for us. We scrapped it out. It wasn't pretty for us in stretches. But we did the job," said Phoenix point guard Steve Nash. "Tonight the effort was there. Somehow we found a way to win over those guys."

The Suns' talk about the intensity of the game and the playoff-like atmosphere harkened back to last season's Western Conference semifinals series, which was marked by nasty words and nastier fouls.

Among other things, there was Stoudemire's accusation that the Spurs were a "dirty team" and his singling out of Bruce Bowen and Ginobili in particular, plus an incident at the close of Game 4 in which the Spurs' Robert Horry bumped Nash, who went flying into the scorer's table. Horry was suspended for two games and Stoudemire and Boris Diaw each got a one-game suspension for leaving the bench in the ensuing altercation.

The Spurs eliminated the Suns in six games on their way to the NBA title.

"I wasn't worried about our effort tonight, considering all the history and last year," said veteran Hill, who is in his first season with Phoenix. "I knew we would be ready to play and I knew they would be ready to play."

The Suns were up 74-67 going into fourth quarter after a late third-quarter burst. But the Spurs opened the final period with a 10-2 run capped by Duncan's basket to put San Antonio up 77-76.

After that it was back and forth, and the game was tied at 90 with 1:55 to play. Ginobili's running jumper put San Antonio up by one, 95-94, but the Suns hit six crucial free throws and the Spurs made mistakes that cost them the game. Bowen missed a corner 3-point attempt and the Suns' Boris Diaw stole the ball from Ginobili after an inbounds pass, leading to a pair of free throws that made it a two-possession game with 6.8 seconds to go.

"[It] felt good. Just didn't go in," Bowen said of his 3-point attempt.

Diaw scored 11 points for the Suns and Nash added 10 points and 10 assists.

Phoenix built a 10-point lead by early in the second quarter, but Duncan scored 14 points in the period to help the Spurs get back to a 44-all tie with 3:27 left in the half.

That happened in part because the Spurs were able to shut down Nash, who didn't score in the first half.

It was reminiscent of last season's conference semifinals, when Nash went scoreless in the first half of Game 3 and had just three points heading into the final quarter of Game 6.

Michael Finley scored 15 points for the Spurs and Jacque Vaughn, filling in for Parker at starting point guard, added 14.

Down 51-50 at halftime, the Spurs kept close and even went up by four, 63-59, in the third, but their offense struggled after that. San Antonio made only one field goal in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the quarter as the Suns went on a 15-4 run that started with a Nash 3-pointer and included eight points from Barbosa. The burst gave Phoenix a 74-67 advantage with one quarter to go.

Game notes: Nash's first score of the game came off a free throw at the top of the third quarter after Bowen was called for a technical foul just after the first half ended. Nash hit another free throw after Horry got a technical halfway through the third quarter. ... Spurs C Francisco Elson was out with a sprained right ankle. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he is game-to-game. ... The Spurs entered the game Monday as the second-best 3-point shooting percentage team in the league (.408). They went just 5-of-23 (22 percent) from beyond the arc on Monday. The Suns were 6-of-18 from 3-point range. ... In another small reminder of the Horry-Nash incident from last season, Horry got a personal foul after bumping into Nash with about 4˝ minutes gone in the third.

Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited