As you may (although probably don’t) recall, I wrote a blog entry on my Blackberry as I drove to work on Opening Day this past October. Well, I’ve decided to try it again for tonight’s big Suns-Spurs showdown.

Amaré Stoudemire was a force in the Suns’ 103-87 win over the Spurs on Thursday night.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)

This time, however, I’m safely seated in the press box in Section 102 instead of slowing down traffic on Grand Avenue. Anybody see the report on the news the other night about the dangers of texting and driving?

I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty fired up about this game, which should tip-off in another 10 minutes or so, I’d guess. The Suns-Spurs rivalry doesn’t have quite the history that the Suns-Lakers do, but the two teams have met up in the playoffs six times in my 15 years with the organization, so I always look forward to this match-up, even in early February.

Tonight also marks the Spurs’ only visit to US Airways Center this season, unless of course, the two teams square off in the playoffs yet again.

8:37 p.m.

I haven’t seen too many games in person lately, as I often watch on TV in my third floor office. I can get a little extra work done that way. So I forgot all about the Suns’ new “circle of friends.” In the past, they connected arms and rocked back and forth in a big circle, whereas now they actually start spinning the circle around and around.

I was actually scared for the guys for a moment or two when their circle grew larger and began drifting towards center court, where the Gorilla’s giant flame cannons were shooting spirals of fire into the air.

8:38 p.m.

Hey, there’s Steven J! Just outside the circle is our publishing coordinator Steve Koek, filming the scene for you, our loyal online fans. And there he was for a moment or two on the giant screen on the center-hung scoreboard, larger than life. Pardon me while I text him, “you’re big time!”

Steve is our resident video expert. He shoots most of the behind-the-scenes footage you enjoy during the playoffs, edits our two web shows, Nothin’ But Net and Home Court, and got us up and podcasting on iTunes this season. And coming soon to an iPod near you, video podcasts!

8:39 p.m.

I haven’t seen either of them, but I hear through the grapevine that Eva Longoria and Hillary Duff are in the building tonight. Eva, of course, is engaged to Spurs guard Tony Parker.

Quick tangent and one of many to come I’m sure: My wife enjoys reading all the weekly celebrity magazines… Us, In Touch, People, Star, etc… and told me over the phone one night when I was in Italy for Training Camp that Eva and Tony had broken up. Although I wasn’t all that shaken up by the news myself, I went to my inside source, Boris Diaw, for the real scoop.

“No, they’re not broken up. Don’t believe everything you read.”

My wife wasn’t sure she believed Boris, but sure enough, their engagement was announced soon after.

Speaking of celebrity sightings, I ran into my pastor at the game tonight. You know, the one I told you about who showed a clip of Raja Bell clotheslining Kobe Bryant when he spoke on anger one Sunday earlier this year? You didn’t read that blog entry either, did you? Why do I bother? I should have introduced him to Ra Ra.

First Quarter

9:46 Hmmm, not much to write about just yet. Spurs have jumped out to an early lead.

5:35 A huge Shawn Marion block of Tim Duncan starts the fast break. Is fast break one word or two words, you think? I’ve never really known for sure. We used to publish a monthly magazine called Fastbreak, although I typically see it as two words in the newspapers. Anyway, the Suns miss the lay-up on the other end of the court, lowering their shooting percentage thus far to a dismal 9.1 percent.

4:20 Marion hits a running floater in the lane. It’s not the prettiest shot in the world, but boy is he accurate with that thing. It reminds me a little bit of the floater Jeff Hornacek used to use in the lane. Suns 7, Spurs 16.

3:12 Matrix again, this time for three from the corner. Suns 10, Spurs 18. Timeout Spurs.

While there’s a break in the action, I want to take a moment and congratulate Shawn on his fourth NBA All-Star selection. There was some doubt in the media as to whether or not Shawn would make it this year with so many talented forwards in the West. But there’s no question the guy’s deserving, averaging 19 points, 10 boards and two steals for the best team in the league.

It’s only fitting that he be in the spotlight, especially this year in Vegas, where he played at UNLV and where he calls home still today. Which is why we’re going to be filming a very special edition of Suns Home Court in Vegas over the Weekend. Make that “editions” of Home Court, as we’ll be posting exclusive videos of Marion each day we’re there, in addition to all the normal behind-the-scenes footage of our whole All-Star entourage.

00:00 Quarter ends with the Spurs on top, 22-16. Ugh. Not exactly what I was expecting from our boys. But it’s early. Nothing to get too worked up over.

Second Quarter

Before we begin quarter two, we’ve got a special Grease performance from the Suns Dancers. Which I really only mention as a way of slipping in a plug for the soon-to-launch new Suns Dancers web site! The flash-animated site will be the best dance team site in the NBA. Watch for it around All-Star.

11:48 And the 2nd quarter is underway with a 3D reverse lay-up. Suns 18, Spurs 22.

11:10 James Jones knocks down the 17-foot jumper. Suns 20, Spurs 24.

10:57 Diaw steal, pass to Leandro Barbosa, who crosses over Robert Horry and lays it in for two more. Not this is more like it! Suns 22, Spurs 24.

10:20 Marion picks off a pass… the Suns are running…. LB scores again… After shooting only 30 percent in the first quarter, Phoenix has hit its first our shots in this one. And the Blur appears to be too fast for the Spurs. Although, as our veteran columnist Joe Gilmartin correctly points out, “He’s too fast for everybody.”

7:48 LB again

7:01 Spurs guard Manu Ginobili scores on one of his patented out-of-control, body flailing slashes to the basket, as a teenage girl one section over waves the flag of Argentina. I’m sure if this guy was on my team, I’d love him. But boy does he get on my nerves as an opponent. At least he doesn’t have that long greasy hair flapping in the wind as he wildly runs through the lane anymore. I’m sure Spurs fans say the same thing about Nash, right?

5:25 A scary moment as STAT hits the deck wincing and is slow to get up.

4:47 Apparently, he’s okay as he just threw one down hard off a give-n-go from Nash. Suns 41, Spurs 44. I wonder if Duncan is having any flashbacks to the 1995 Conference Finals?

3:40 The crowd boos as the Gorilla and his Adio Sol Patrol make their way onto the court in Chicago Bears uniforms. Apparently Suns fans are pulling for the Indianapolis Colts. But it’s not the Super Bowl Shuffle they perform, it’s the Peter Piper Shuffle! Boy I could use a slice of that pepperoni right about now.

2:41 Duncan fouls Diaw, his third of game. Enter Fabricio Oberto, as Duncan takes a seat next to Gregg Popovich, who has no tie on tonight for some reason. Or
maybe he ripped it off in frustration as the Suns have come charging back.


The Suns are right in this game, 50-53 as they enter the locker room, and I’m on my way down to the press room for my customary fruit plate. Ah, who am I kidding? I won’t be able to resist the complimentary ice cream from Stone Cold Creamery when I get down there.

Third Quarter

Back to business. You’re wondering about my halftime snack, right? Just as I suspected, the Oreo cookie ice cream was calling my name. I was able to ignore the screams of the Snickers pie, however. Back in my younger days I would have done both, and probably picked up a couple cookies for good measure.

When David Griffin (Suns VP, Player Personnel) and I were Media Relations interns in the early ‘90s, we often ate handfuls of candy bars for lunch. I’m convinced the years of Baby Ruths and Butterfingers are what led to my high cholesterol.

You could care less, right? I don’t blame you. Let’s talk (type?) hoops. The second half is about to begin and Tim Duncan has his starters together in a tight huddle on the court. They’ve got to want this one bad, as they’ve fallen a ways back behind both Phoenix and Dallas in the Western Conference standings, and just lost to Utah last night.

11:03 Nash knocks down the three-pointer. The Suns have totaled more than 440 treys so far this season. I really hope they have someone in the three-point shootout at All-Star this year. I don’t care if it’s Raja, Leandro, Jalen Rose, Pat Burke, the best three-point shooting team needs somebody in the three-point competition.

8:42 Beep! Beep! LB picks Brent Barry’s pocket and races down court for yet another lay-up. Suns 59, Spurs 55.

A young fan with a “New winning streak starts now” sign is up on the big screen. I’m going to make a prediction here and now: The Suns will not lose another game before the All-Star break!

7:15 Stoudemire hits the jumper over Duncan. Suns 63, Spurs 56.

The last time these two teams met, in San Antonio way back on November 8, was the night Amare made his first start. I have to admit, I thought it was a mistake at the time. STAT was 0-for-4 shooting in the previous two games, was playing limited minutes, and just did not look ready to play a significant role. But that’s why I’m the web guy and Mike D’Antoni is the coach of the Western Conference All-Stars.

6:40 Marion blocks Duncan under the hoop, but is called for the foul. Shawn is incredulous as he holds his head in shock, and the crowd is going crazy. The replay above clearly shows it was a clean block. Of course, we’ve got the advantage of a slow-motion replay, whereas the referee had to attempt to make the right call in the heat of the action.

It was a totally different situation, but this just brought to mind a play in the 1995-96 season. Then-Suns rookie Michael Finley (now a Spurs reserve) elevated for a monster dunk on then-Spurs center David Robinson, which resulted in an offensive foul. It was one of the most vicious, posterizing dunks I’d seen, and the Suns’ game operations crew at the time replayed it about a dozen times in a row, as the crowd’s displeasure over the bad call grew and grew. Anybody else remember that?

Speaking of the Admiral, he was a guest on the Gambo & Ash show on Sports 620 KTAR earlier this week. Fantastic interview! The guy is a true class act. I just wish he had played in purple and orange instead of black and silver.

5:25 Junior Seau sighting. The pro bowler is sitting near Suns owner Robert Sarver along the sideline.

00:00 Suns still leading, but just barely, 72-70 entering the fourth and final quarter.

Fourth Quarter

11:18 Marcus Banks drives baseline on Francisco Elson for a contorted lay-up and the foul! Nice to see Marcus getting some minutes. Although not at the expense of Raja Bell, who hasn’t played since the first quarter. And now we know why.

The basketball communications department just handed out an “Injury Report,” explaining that Bell is doubtful to return to the game, due to an inflamed left knee. Here’s hoping that’s nothing a little rest won’t cure.

9:2007 Ouch!!! Ginobili, driving full-speed towards the hoop, just extended his leg into Stoudemire’s crotchal region. Here’s hoping he was wearing a cup. Worse yet, Amare is called for the foul! Are you kidding me? Fire up the replay!

Now STAT is called for a technical, apparently for stepping towards Manu in a threatening manor. But he’s now laying on the court in some serious pain. I think I felt that all the way up here.

7:17 Diaw is stripped under the basket, but gets the ball back… dishes out to LB for three… YES… Make that 20 points for Barbosa and an 83-78 lead for the Suns.

6:32 Manu is getting booed unmercifully by the sold-out crowd every time he touches the ball. I love it!

2:22 Barbosa drains another three-ball, only this time is fouled behind the line by Manu. The Suns are officially pulling away.

1:19 Nash is pestered upcourt by Parker, but calmly drives around a STAT screen and pulls up for the jumper to put this game out of reach, 99-87.

00:29 Stoudemire hammers his second dunk in the past 20 seconds to put a couple of exclamation points on this one.

00:00 Suns win, 103-87! Hopefully all those doubters who’ve been pointing to the Suns’ poor record against the elite team’s of the West – failing to recognize that four of their losses to the elite came in the first 10 days of the season – will pipe down for a while.

I, meanwhile, am off to the visitor’s locker room. Steven J and Josh “JAG” Greene, our other talented publishing coordinator, have the Suns’ clubhouse covered. In other words, I drew the short straw tonight.

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