Newsroom Notes: STAT Pours in 29 as Suns Stifle Spurs
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: April 7, 2010
The Spurs came in having won 4-of-5 over the Suns. The Spurs came in having won four in a row and six of their last seven. The Spurs came in to Phoenix having owned the Suns mentally after years of heartbreak.
But that Spurs team was nowhere to be found Wednesday.
Showing very little resistance from San Antonio, the Suns controlled the entire contest before coming away with 112-101 home victory over their Western Conference nemesis.
“It was a really good win for us,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “Unfortunately, it really doesn’t do anything for us (referring to the logjam in the Western Conference’s standings).”
The Suns broke the game wide open at the end of the second period when they went on a 13-3 run that was punctuated by two dunks from Amar’e Stoudemire and an impressive flush from Jason Richardson. Besides a slight letdown at the conclusion of the third period and tthe beginning of the fourth, the Suns regained the momentum with an 11-2 fourth-quarter run that would lay the Spurs to rest.
“We knew they were going to make their run,” Stoudemire said. “The good thing is, is that we countered that and made our own run. We amped up our defensive intensity and Goran (Dragic) did a great job out there getting some steals that led to some easy baskets.”
Stoudemire, whose career scoring average is the highest against the Spurs and Clippers, continued his dominance over Duncan and Co. with 29 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Jason Richardson poured in 20 points, while Steve Nash tallied 18 points and 12 assists before resting the entire fourth period.
The Suns outscored the Spurs by 12 on the break and forced San Antonio into committing 10 more turnovers. The win was an even more impressive when considering the Spurs were playing with a healthy Tony Parker for the second straight game.
But the key of the game was limiting the offense of the red-hot Manu Ginobili. Ginobili, who had been averaging 24.9 points in his last 16 games, was held by the Suns to just 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
“We just tried to get the ball out of his hands and double-team his pick-and-rolls to make him pass,” Nash said. “He can make you pay in that way as well, but I thought we did a good job tonight in making it difficult for him.”
With the win, the Suns remained tied with both Dallas and Denver for the second-best record in the West. However, with Dallas and Denver being divisional leaders, the Suns sit behind those two squads in fourth place.
Lady Magic Seeks Gentry's Counsel
When Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman received the call about possibly becoming the first woman to coach a D-League franchise, she turned to one person.
That person was Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry.
Lieberman is a long-time family friend of Gentry and his wife, Suzanne. Their relationship stems back to Detroit, when Gentry was the head coach of the Pistons.
Last summer, Mavericks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson called Lieberman to inform her that they were interested in naming her as the head coach of a new D-league franchise in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas. Lieberman relayed the story of when she first contacted Gentry.
“I don’t know if this is going to happen or not,” Lieberman said. “But Donnie Nelson is talking to me about this and you have to give me a couple of reasons why I shouldn’t do it.
“And he said, ‘Do it, do it and do it.’ I said, ‘Alvin, I was looking for some reasons why I shouldn’t do it.’”
Known as “Lady Magic,” Lieberman targeted Gentry and Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown as members of a select few that she would contact for advice. Lieberman recently began attending Suns practice and has been dutifully taking notes from the sideline.
“So Alvin has been front-and-center since Day 1, since July, since before I told my son, matter of fact,” Lieberman said. “And my 15 year-old son doubles as my agent.”
The gesture is yet another measure of the respect that the two-time 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Month garners within the basketball world.
“He said, ‘Nancy, you have to do this,” Lieberman recounted. ‘You’re going to be fine. You have so many of us. If you need us, we’re here.’”
Gentry believes she’ll do a fantastic job. He also has no worries that she’ll experience zero issues as the lone female coach in the D-League.
“Nancy is well-respected," Gentry said. "I think she’ll be fine. If you know basketball; it doesn’t matter. Man, woman or whoever."
Star Wars on Planet Orange
Coming from a galaxy, far, far away, Star Wars: The Clone Wars Night is descending upon Planet Orange.
The Suns’ home game against the Rockets Sunday will be Star Wars-themed, with signs of extra-terrestrial life lurking all over US Airways Center. From the player introductions, to a few surprises by some of the Suns’ biggest names, the force will undoubtedly be in Phoenix on Sunday.
The players are certainly looking forward to the festivities.
“I like the lightsabers,” Suns forward Louis Amundson said. "The ones we used were the real authentic ones."
Amundson, whose favorite character is Chewbacca, believes that the wookie would be a “cool dude to hang out with on the weekend.” Amundson may be luck, as members of Phoenix's 501st Legion Star Wars fan club will be decked out in costumes.
Fans that dress as Star Wars characters will earn a chance at winning official Star Wars merchandise, while an official Suns/Star Wars t-shirt will be awarded to every person that buys a ticket from this page.
If you attend the game, be sure to look out for the introductory music and the Suns Dancers. From what I’m told, the force will also be with them.
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