Notebook: Spurs vs. Suns: 4/3/11
By Tim Price, for NBA.com
Posted Sunday April 3, 2011 4:17PM
THE FACTS: George Hill came off the Spurs' bench to score 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting (4-of-7 from the 3-point line and 5-of-5 from the foul line) to help San Antonio snap a Tim Duncan-era worst six-game losing streak in a 114-97 victory over Phoenix that also eliminated the Suns from the playoffs on Sunday at AT&T Center. The Spurs' (58-19) only starter in double figures was Richard Jefferson with 12, but bench players Matt Bonner (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Gary Neal (15 points) stepped up. The Suns (37-39) have to win four of their remaining six games to avoid a losing record, but four of those games are on the road.
QUOTABLE: "We shot a lot better, and that makes things easier for sure. Hopefully we can do what we did tonight and make good shots great shots. George (Hill) had another one of those games where he's aggressive coming off the bench. It really helps our group." -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
THE STAT: The Suns trailed by 15 points after the first quarter, but in the second quarter they shot almost 53 percent from the floor and sank all five foul shots -- yet trailed by 24 at halftime. San Antonio was 58 percent from the floor including 5-of-7 from the 3-point line in the second quarter.
TURNING POINT: Hill came off the bench for the first time 5:45 into the game when Phoenix led 14-13. The Spurs made seven of their next eights shots (Hill made five of them including a pair of 3-pointers), and when Hill sank three free throws after being fouled on a three-point shot by Zabian Dowdell with two seconds to go in the quarter, the Spurs led 35-20 after the end of one.
HOT: After being held to 11 points the last two games, Hill has found his touch again. Last week in starts against Memphis and Portland (both losses) Hill was 20-of-32 from the floor (just one made 3-pointer) for a combined 57 points in 70 minutes. He had zero turnovers and didn't have any today either. Combining those two games with the one today shows Hill shooting 62.5 percent from the floor.
NOT: While Hill and Neal came off the bench to form a backcourt that shot 16-of-25 from the floor (7-of-11 from the 3-point line), starters Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili went 5-of-19 for 13 points in a total of 52 minutes.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: If the Spurs can get some cushion over the Lakers for the No. 1 seed in the West, Hill could get some more playing time. In the past week he has matched a career high (30 points) in addition to the 29 today against Phoenix.
GOOD MOVE: At the expense of big-man minutes for DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter got 10 first-half minutes (Blair none) and scored three points and had three rebounds, though he was 1-of-4 from the free-throw line (55 percent for the season). Perhaps games like this will help Splitter get in the flow of the rotation by the time the playoffs arrive.
BAD MOVE: After Hill came in and scored two layups on his first two trips down the floor, the Suns played zone. Hill ended the opening quarter by knocking down a pair of threes and then made three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.
ROOKIE WATCH: With the flu bug keeping Steve Nash back in Phoenix for consecutive games, Dowdell now has played 45 minutes in the past two games as backup to Aaron Brooks at point guard. Against the Spurs, Dowdell was 3-of-11 (six points) with three fouls and four turnovers.
NOTABLE: While the Spurs had one starter in double figures, all five of the Phoenix starters scored in double figures. San Antonio won the bench scoring 73-36.
UP NEXT: For the Suns, Tuesday @ Chicago, Wednesday @ Minnesota, Friday @ New Orleans. For the Spurs, Tuesday @ Atlanta, Wednesday vs. Sacramento, Saturday vs. Utah.