The Spurs and NBA fans worldwide found this out Wednesday night when the Suns -- using the grit, defense and depth they've developed this season -- gutted out a second straight playoff win over their eternal nemesis, 110-102.
The Suns will attempt to take a 3-0 lead when they visit the Spurs on Friday night.
Even when the Suns aren't aesthetically pleasing, as was the case for much of Wednesday night, "There's a strength that wasn't there before," said Steve Nash of the Suns' growing mental and physical toughness.
The Suns' heroes were numerous, but here's a partial list.
-- The ageless Grant Hill (actually, he's 37) hit 6-of-10 shots, including two key late jumpers over Tim Duncan, while helping to harass Manu Ginobili into 2-of-8 shooting.
"Grant Hill never ceases to amaze me," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
In particular, he pointed to Hill's defense on Ginobili, whom Gentry called "the most competitive athlete in the world."
Of Hill, he said, "Every night, we ask him to do something. He's always (guarding) the best perimeter player.
"And he never complains. He just plays.
"I've been the luckiest guy in the world to have coached him for as long as I have. He'll forever be my favorite player."
-- Reserve Jared Dudley stopped what could have been a fatal slide for the Suns early on, when the Spurs took a 30-21 lead after the first quarter.
At this point, Dudley started grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring.
"I thought he was the player of the game," Steve Nash said. "He gave us energy, confidence and changed the game" while allowing the Suns to tie the contest at 51-51 at halftime.
-- Channing Frye hit 5-of-6 on 3-pointers even though the Spurs were keeping a close eye on him.
"When he does that, they're very, very difficult to guard," Popovich said.
Also, Amar'e Stoudemire though his shots weren't falling (6-for-15) battled his way to 23 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Stoudemire's boardwork was a key to the Suns' 49-37 edge.
Nash shot 7-for-13 for 19 points, though he also had five turnovers.
The Suns took the lead for good in the opening moments of the final quarter when Dudley hit a 3-pointer to break an 80-80 tie.
Frye then nailed a 3-pointer for an 88-83 lead, then Hill hit those two big jumpers for a 92-86 lead.
Jason Richardson, who leads the NBA playoffs with 28 successful 3-pointers, nailed a 3-pointer with 5:21 left for a 95-88 lead.
Nash then started to find Stoudemire rolling to the basket; Stoudemire hit 3-of-4 free throws.
The Suns now had a 102-92 lead and the game.
For the Spurs, Tim Duncan had 29 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Parker, once again coming off the bench, added 20 points.
Richard Jefferson bounced back from his poor Game 1 with 18 points and 10 boards.
The Spurs smartly got the ball inside to Duncan much more than in Game 1.
This exposed the limitations of Jarron Collins, a nominal starting center.
Collins normally is a deep backup but is starting in the absence of the injured Robin Lopez. This allows the Suns to maintain their successful rotation, which includes sharp-shooter Frye coming off the bench and going against opposing reserves.
Whether Lopez plays in this series remains unclear.
"He's still not quite there," Gentry said.
"Unless he's totally confident and we're totally confident, I don't see running him out there."
And even if he does come back, his conditioning would be suspect.
"I don't see him being a 25-minute guy." Gentry said.
The game became part of the debate over the state's controversial new immigration law when -- partly in response to the law and partly because of the Cinco de Mayo celebration -- Suns owner Robert Sarver had his team wear their "Los Suns" uniforms.
Sarver's move was endorsed not only by Suns players and coaches but by the Spurs Popovich as well.
An animated Gentry, speaking less than hour before tipoff, said:
"This is the last thing I'm going to say:
"We've worn these jerseys before. We've worn them 3 times. We're 3-0 in these jerseys.
"We're wearing these jerseys just because it's a...holiday. It's Cinco De Mayo. We're wearing them because of the diversity that we have in the state of Arizona and we're wearing them because of the diversity in the NBA.
"There are more than 400 guys who come from more than 70 countries. That's it."
After the game, Nash said, "Our team is proud to wear those jerseys. We have a sense of pride in our Latino community...They give us diversity...It's important sometimes to stand up for what we believe..."
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