Suns Sweep Spurs to Advance to West Finals
By Josh Greene, Suns.com
Posted: May 9, 2010
In the tradition of great all-time heavyweight rematches, this one will forever go down as an early KO in Round 2.
With their 107-101 win in San Antonio Sunday, the Suns completed their four-game sweep of the Spurs to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2006. The series victory also turned the tables on a San Antonio club that had eliminated Phoenix in four of their last five playoff appearances.
“The great thing about our team is that we had a closeout instinct with the Spurs,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored a game-high 29 points in Game 4. “Being up 2-0, it would have been easy to relax and the Spurs could have won Game 3, but we treated it as the first game of the series and we did the same with Game 4. That’s what great about our team. We get along really well, and that goes a little unnoticed. When you get along that well as a unit, it’s translates to the basketball court and we play hard for each other. That’s one thing that was different about this series.
“A lot of people doubted us in October, and a lot of people doubted us in this series. I’m sure the next series will start with the same doubt and with that being said we need continue to come together as a team and play hard. Winning in San Antonio is very special for us.”
Joining Stoudemire as one of only a handful of players still on the roster from the last time the Suns were in the West Finals, a bloodied Steve Nash needed six stitches to close a cut above his right eye via a third-quarter Tim Duncan elbow en route to 20 points and nine assists.
“I am just fortunate that I had the chance to get back out there,” the Suns’ point guard said, “and I didn’t know how it didn’t keep me on the sidelines. When I got hit, I initially didn’t think it was a big deal but I wanted to give it a try and luckily it worked out. We had three-and-a-half games clear sailing, so it seems like something always happens. I was able to get back out and feel fortunate to help my teammates.
“We played well, and San Antonio was coming into the series with a lot of confidence. They had beaten a Dallas team that some picked to make it to the Finals. Our teams just match up better against the Spurs than Portland, and we were able to use our depth, defense and everyone took turns stepping up. We aren’t the most talented team, but we believe in each other and enjoy playing together. It is a pleasure to play with this group. When you play the Spurs you have to have enough fight to win.”
Battling back from a first-half nine-point deficit, the Suns’ second unit came up big yet again, led by Jared Dudley’s bench-high 16 points.
“Coach Gentry’s faith in the bench has gotten us to the Western Conference Finals,” Dudley said. “You see a guy like Goran whose struggled and was even benched last year. This year he scores 26 in a playoff game. Myself, getting opportunities to show what I can do... It’s Lou Amundson. It’s LB. Although he missed 30 games, Coach puts him in for the playoffs. Because of all that, this is a true team. We play 10 guys all the time. You see the depth.
“Wherever we go next round, we’re looking at going there and getting one win on the road, at least. We can win on the road. We beat San Antonio here. We beat Portland there. We can win anywhere.”
CONFERENCE FINALS TICKETS ON SALE MONDAY
Tickets for the Suns’ first two home games in the Western Conference Finals vs. either the Lakers or Jazz go on sale Monday at 2 p.m. and can be purchased online at Suns.com/playoffs, by phone at 1-800-4-NBA-TIX, at the US Airways Center ticket office and at all Ticketmaster locations. L.A. currently leads their best-of-seven series, 3-0.
GENTRY ON THE SPURS
“I have so much respect for the Spurs and the way they do things. We try to pattern our franchise after them. We want to be what they are. I have all the respect for Gregg Popovich and what he’s accomplished and how he’s got that done. I think they’re a class organization. Tonight was a classical example of it doesn’t matter how dire straits you think it is, they always seem to scare the heck out of you. There’s no quit in the Spurs. We beat an incredible and a class opponent. With that said we did a great job of staying in the game and hanging around. They just won’t let you play great. I thought we did a great job.”
If Iron Man 2’s box office receipts from the San Antonio area suddenly spiked Saturday, there’s a good reason.
After morning practice, the majority of the team (as well as some Suns staff) took advantage of their off-day with a group trip to see the new sequel.
“We took up four rows,” Jason Richardson said. “It was cool. We had Channing, Griffin, LB, Goran, Lou, Steve, Jared, Robin and Earl.”
And as for the film itself…
“Jared and Lou are the Siskel and Ebert movie reviewers of the team, but the first one had more action. This one was pretty good, though.”
While it’s usually not every day a nearly complete contingent of players heads out as a group for extracurricular activities, that’s not exactly true with this team.
“Last summer, everybody was hanging out with each other a bit,” J-Rich said. “In training camp, it was the same thing. Lunches together, dinners together… and it just took off from there. This team is something special.”
Even though it’s now an off-day as the team gets ready to prepare for their Western Conference Finals opponent, Monday will still prove to be busy for Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle.
The Suns Ring of Honor great will meet 76ers brass in Phoenix to interview for their vacant head-coaching job with the club. Philadelphia requested the meeting and cleared it through the Suns’ higher-ups.
“I love it in Phoenix,” Majerle said. “This is my second year, and I really enjoy what I’m doing. I love coaching. It will be a great experience to sit down with the 76ers, listen to what they have to say and tell them what I think about my philosophies.
“The goal (as assistant coach) was to see if I liked it and if I wanted to do it. Right from the beginning, I knew I enjoyed it. I never really thought about being a head coach, but that’s the natural progression. I’m not in a hurry to become a head coach. I’d like to gain more experience.”
Majerle credits Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry with making his two-year tenure as an assistant both fun and rewarding from an experience standpoint.
“Alvin lets all the coaches do a lot of things,” he said. “There’s lots of freedom to express our views, and I’ve learned as lot from him on how to manage players. He has a great personality with the guys and that’s something I didn’t really think about before getting into coaching. I always thought it was about the Xs and Os, but it’s all about relations with players. He does a great job with that, so a lot of that goes back to him.”
Reportedly, the Sixers are also interviewing TNT's Doug Collins, ESPN's Avery Johnson and Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams, to name a few. Philadelphia was 27-55 under former Head Coach Eddie Jordan last season.