Tuesday, April 29, 2008
11:00 pm
Josh Greene

Arghhhh…

Possibly the only thing more aggravating than being eliminated from the postseason again, is to be “detained” in the arena where the latest elimination took place. My exit from the AT&T Center in San Antonio was far easier said than done after Game 5, especially when facing locked doors, chained gates and (for some reason) angry security guards at every turn.

Between the outcome of the game and the dejection in the visitors’ locker room during the postgame media scrum, I couldn’t wait to get out of that building – and with good reason.

Another all-too-short postseason exit after another 50-plus win regular season – a regular season that also happened to feature a franchise-altering trade, another pair of All-Star appearances – all en route to a fourth straight playoff berth. Of course, that’s little solace for a team that struggled out of an early Opening Round 3-0 hole, before going out in Game 5.

Back to the postgame locker room scene, there was no hostility (well, none that I experienced firsthand), even with the onslaught of camera, microphones and voice recorders at a time when nobody really feels like talking. Still, the Suns were asked every question possible about the series and the whole season. It always struck me as odd to flip that switch in mindset, from “how will you handle the opposition tonight” to “what do you think will happen this summer with this team?” – all in the span of a few hours.

I’m sure the finality of it all hadn’t quite sunk in yet… myself included. To their credit, the Suns answered all comers before filing onto the team bus for their final flight back to Phoenix.

As for what the immediate future holds for the Suns, well, that’s anybody’s guess. One thing is certain. The Suns will eventually rise again – just not today.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
9:09 pm
Stefan Swiat

My colleague that used to work at Spurs.com swears that when Fabricio Oberto scores over eight points the Spurs always win. So I went to the stat archive to see if that was true and as usual… my friend was wrong. They are 11-4 when he scores eight or above. On the other hand, we were 17-2 when a combination of Diaw, Bell or Barbosa score over 15 apiece. Right now, Diaw has 20, Bell has 14 and Barbosa has five points. So the Suns need one point from Bell to secure a great chance at victory.

Or if Bell scores six more points and scores 20, the Suns will definitely win. This season, the Suns are undefeated when Bell has scored 20 or more.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
9:00 pm
Steve Koek

Things are getting a bit chippy after a relatively clean series so far.

Suns need to keep within themselves this last 6:43. Again, if the Suns play smart, there will be a game 6.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:52 pm
Brad G. Faye

We’ve got ourselves a ballgame and with both teams playing as relentless as they are, it doesn’t look like anybody will be pulling away any time soon. The Spurs are playing like their normal disciplined selves (hence my always calling them the 1980 USSR Hockey Team) while the Suns are fighting with everything they’ve got (kind of like a certain USA Team did that very same Olympic year).

If Raja Bell can continue playing at this pace in the fourth quarter I really like our chances of Game 6 in Phoenix on Thursday night. Just remember Suns fans, ya gotta belieeeeeve!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:47 pm
Dan Hilton

Did I say the Suns needed to make up five points in the quarter? They did much better than that by outscoring the Spurs 27-15 and going from a nine point deficit to a three point lead.

Most of that run happened when Shaq went to the bench. At this point, I would hate to be in Mike D’Antoni’s shoes. Do you put Shaq in because he’s “The Big Diesel” or do you keep him on the bench because the team is rolling right now?

The great thing is that coach took Nash out and the team still kept the lead they had acquired while he was on the court.

Also, it will be interesting to see whether Hack-a-Shaq comes back to haunt the Spurs with all of the fouls their players have right now.


Sunday, April 27, 2008
9:42 pm
Josh Greene

It’s almost the end of the third quarter, and much like he did in Game 4, Boris Diaw is once again playing above and beyond. Getting the starting nod for the second straight game, thanks to an ailing Grant Hill, the Frenchman leads the Suns with 18 points and has seven boards and seven assists, as well.

It’s good to see Diaw making the most of his newfound starting minutes. Prior to Game 5, as the Suns were watching some of the Hornets-Mavs game in the locker room, TNT analysts were supposedly knocking 3D, even after his big game Sunday. I say “supposedly,” because I couldn’t exactly hear the comments (I quite possibly may be going deaf from attending too many ballgames, I guess). Anyway, leave it to Gordan Giricek to fill in Boris, who was at his locker. Diaw was pretty entrenched with whatever he was listing to on his MP3 player to hear the original comments, but that certainly didn’t stop Girecek from going up to the forward and telling him what he thought of TNT’s criticism. Diaw didn’t seem too fazed. In fact, he was more upset a few minutes later, when he missed his image splashed across the TV thanks to a remote camera set up in the locker room.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:41 pm
Daniel Banks

Oh ye of little faith? Apparently the Suns didn’t get the memo that the Spurs are supposed to own the third quarter in the AT&T Center. They’ve outscored the Spurs 20-8 and if the Spurs had any cockiness about their building, it’s been beaten out of them in this second half. The Suns are back in this game with hustle plays from Amare Stoudemire and (deja vu!) solid play from Boris Diaw. I love this game!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:38 pm
Steve Koek

Restlessness has turned to downright uneasiness as a raja bell three-pointer gives the suns a 65-62 lead with 2:20 to go in the third.

This is by far the most important 2:20 so far this season as the suns need to buckle down and play hard and smart basketball to close the period.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:35 pm
Steve Koek

There’s nothing better than being in an opposing arena and having the crowd silenced by a good road team play. STAT’s inside move pulls the suns within two with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The AT&T crowd is growing restless.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:29 pm
Stefan Swiat

ESPN’s Bill Simmons, also knows as “The Sports Guy,” talked about how bad San Antonio’s “Hack-a-Shaq” tactics are for the game. He said that David Stern should have had intentional fouls implemented to curb that tactic a long time ago. Simmons believes that the strategy takes away from the game in that it disrupts the flow of the game. He went on to say that he is disappointed in two things:

  1. That Gregg Popovich, who he considers the best coach in the league, would give in to using that strategy and
  2. That Shaq hasn’t run anyone over yet to make everyone stop using it.

The problem for Phoenix is that “Hack-a-Shaq” works. Whenever the Spurs used it in the first half, the Suns would trade one point for two points. It allowed the world champs to get some separation and go up by as many as eight. Shaq was 5-of-14 from the line in the first half, while the team as a whole was 11-of-24. The Spurs on the other hand, were 12-of-12 from the charity stripe in the first half.

Now I don’t agree with “Hack-a-Shaq,” I never have, but it shows that San Antonio doesn’t care about being the good guy. They care about winning. They know that no one remembers how they won it, but that they won it. Is it better to have principles and lose or to win? It’s an interesting debate. I’m hoping that the Suns don’t have to give up one to get another.

Maybe Coach D’Antoni will start doing “Hack-a-Bowen” or “Hack-a-Oberto” to slow the game down to a crawl. Then, maybe, the league will take a look at the tactic…


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:25 pm
Jeramie McPeek

Good start to the third quarter!

Although they went into halftime down nine, the Suns haven’t come out with their heads down. They’re scrapping and playing aggressive. Boris had that nice little inside move and hook over Michael Finley. Raja canned a big three-pointer. Nash got up higher than I’ve seen him in quite a while to challenge a Bruce Bowen runner. Shaq blocked Duncan and then saved the ball from going out of bounds. And STAT fought former teammate Kurt Thomas for a loose ball.

I was a little nervous we might see a second half like we did in Game 6 a year ago when the Suns came out of the locker room and just melted down here in San Antonio. That was the most painful half of basketball I think I’ve ever suffered through. But I don’t think these guys are going to let that happen tonight.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:15 pm
Dan Hilton

If you’re looking at things by quarter, the Suns aren’t faring too well in the first two. They lost the first one by four points and the second by five points. I think they need to make up at least 5 of those points in this third quarter to keep it close and be able to make a run in the fourth.

The Suns do seem to have a bit more energy in the third quarter than they did previously. Hopefully, Steve can get some good passes to people and get some easy assists.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
8:05 pm
Steve Koek

It’s halftime and the Suns’ sloppy play at times and free throw misses find them in a nine point hole.

Nothing they can’t and haven’t before dug themselves out of. A nine point deficit weighs a lot heavier on the road with the season at stake, however.

The Suns will have to take the court to start the third like their playoff life hangs in the balance, which, of course, it does.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:57 pm
Jeramie McPeek

I took one for the team.

Instead of sitting baseline at the AT&T Center tonight, or in the press box halfway up Section 103, I’m watching tonight’s Game 5 from my living room couch. After Daniel Banks and I brought back two losses from San Antonio last week, I decided to change the lineup. The playoffs are all about adjustments, right?

In our place, Steve Koek and Josh Greene checked in, and carry the weight of the planet (orange) on their broad shoulders. That’s right. I’m giving them all the credit if the Suns’ pull out the road victory tonight and all the blame if the season comes to a close.

I’ve got confidence in my veterans, though. These guys have been through the wars, and stepped up big in big moments over the years. The dynamic duo was in Dallas when the Suns won Game 6 of the 2005 semis to advance to the Conference Finals, and were in LA when the Suns won Game 6 in overtime in 2006.

Although, on second thought, “Steven J” and “JAG” were on the trips that saw the Suns’ runs end in San Antonio in ‘05 and last year, too.

TIMEOUT! I need to make a couple substitutions.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:50 pm
Daniel Banks

The Spurs are getting some favorable bounces in this second quarter and they are in danger of pulling away as the time ticks down to halftime. Despite the late-half struggles, the Suns are sort of like that Rick Astley, “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…” they keep fighting and they remain just a few points behind as the Spurs continue to intentionally foul Shaq and keep this game slowwwwww.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:10 pm
Daniel Banks

Watching this on television has me at a disadvantage although I’m reaching arena-like decibal levels in the Suns.com Newsroom with how much I’m yelling at the the tv. The Suns have made their move and surged again of the Suns with handsy defense and forcing five Spurs turnovers.

The Spurs waste no time in fighting back with a beneficial trip to the line. The Suns and Spurs are playing like it’s Game 7 but only the Suns are in a must-win situation…right? The Spurs are playing like a team who do not want to see Phoenix again. It’s not that bad, the weather is nice and there are things to see and do…


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:34 pm
Dan Hilton

The Suns are winning the 2nd quarter 13-6, which is good because they lost the first quarter. I’m still of the opinion that the Suns need to play by quarter instead of play by half or game.

Steve Nash just tried to draw two offensive fouls in a row and didn’t get either one of them. This is an important game for both teams so I hope the refs keep the game in control. I can see where the game could get out of control very quickly if the game is called too loosely. I’ve seen a lot of contact underneath the basket in the first two quarters and Amare and Shaq are both getting frustrated. We’ve seem some “chippiness” in other games around the NBA so I’m sure the refs are aware of what could happen as well.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:29 pm
Steve Koek

Key stretch coming for the suns. Shaq and Nash re-enter down 3 early in the second.

Shaq must not pick up his third foul and the Suns need to take advantage of the Spurs geriatric lineup with Thomas, Barry, Duncan and Finley all on the court for San Antonio.

Good to see LB hit a corner pocket three (see, Tom Leander, I watch) and the Suns now take the lead, 36-34 almost 4 minutes into the second.

If the Suns can go on a nice run as the half approaches and come out with intensity and smarts to start the third, the Spurs will feel the heat of Planet Orange.

We’ve beaten this team here before, we’ve won four in a row before and the spurs do not want this series to go back to Arizona.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:13 pm
Steve Koek

Horry just entered to a thunderous ovation. It makes me wonder whether he gets that kind of reception during a regular season game against the Bobcats.
Then again, he probably does if he drains a 3 upon entering like just did here.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:11 pm
Steve Koek

Hack-a-Shaq is done for now as Skinner replaces O’Neal.
But wait. Hack-a-Skinner? Brian hits one of two — how boring.

 


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:10 pm
Daniel Banks

It looks like we may be in store for another Game 1 if this keeps up tonight… the teams are trading buckets and struggling to get separation on the scoreboard. The whistles are frequent and frustrating tonight as they are keeping both teams from establishing a tempo to the game.

The Suns look to be pushing a bit and trying too hard to force the plays early tonight – they haven’t had many changes to get comfortable on the run, but as the action heats up Nash should find his rhythm and adjust to Spurs defensive scheme.proving to be hot at home hitting 60% to keep the pressure on against the hopeful Suns.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:09 pm
Steve Koek

And the Hack-a-Shaq begins with just under three minutes to go in the first. I get it, it can be a good basketball strategy, but it sure does grind the game to a halt, which I guess is the purpose. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.
As I type this, Shaq is fouled again, he has made 2 of 4 so far, so I’m not really sure if it’s success or not.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:07 pm
Stefan Swiat

If you have been following my blogs throughout this series, I remarked in my entry that previewed this matchup that I hoped that Suns owner Robert Sarver would be able to enlist the services of referee Joey Crawford for one the games.

Crawford, if you remember, was the official that had a run-in with Spurs center Tim Duncan a year ago that resulted in his suspension. If you all remember correctly, Duncan was ejected after laughing on the bench near Crawford. The two have quite the history together over the years, which culminated in a blow-out that day.

It is a good omen for the Suns, who need every little piece of good fortune to grab this game on the road. Hey, at least David Stern didn’t resurrect the services of Tim Donaghy.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
7:00 pm
Steve Koek

In the “it’s who you know department,” on my way to the upper level press box high atop the ATT Center, I ran into one of the Suns’ physicians, Dr. Craig Phelps, who directed me to an empty seat in the lower bowl. Twenty rows up in the corner behind the Suns bench.

Of course, that puts me right in the middle of thousands of screaming Spurs fans, but at least I have a better view of the action.

Looks like a good start for Diaw. Suns trail by three as the first begins to wind down.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
6:56 pm
Daniel Banks

The Suns are off to a tight start against the Spurs in Game 5. At this point last year they were playing without Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudemire but tonight they have accounted for six of the Suns’ 11 points in this first quarter. The team opens up shooting 35.7% while the Spurs are proving to be hot at home hitting 60% to keep the pressure on against the hopeful Suns.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
6:30 pm
Brad G. Faye

As a New Yorker, I often get categorized as a Yankees fan. It’s not the worst thing in the world, so, despite being a Mets fan, I usually just roll with it. Sometimes that goes a step to far, however, and I find myself defending and even rooting for them – especially against the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps the only thing Yankees fans and Mets fans have in common is that as New Yorkers, we despise everything that comes out of Boston. I often ponder to myself whether or not I hate the Red Sox more than I actually like any team in sports.

Anyway, in case you can’t tell by now, this is all an elaborate setup for how well I remember Boston’s 0-3 comeback against New York back in 2004. I watched each and every game of that series and remember every sharp turn en route to that Game 7 blowout at Yankee Stadium.

 

Suns fans showed their support for the team by climbing Piestewa Peak on Tuesday morning.

As much as I hate to make the comparison, the Suns have a lot in common with that Red Sox team in terms of their “never-say-die” attitude against a bitter rival they’ve struggled in the past against. The series themselves share some similarities as well, with the Red Sox losing close contests in Games 1 and 2 before having their clocks cleaned completely in Game 3. Many expected Boston to just lay down in Game 4, but in front of their home fans they managed to pull out a grueling victory in 12 innings.

Not only did the Red Sox refuse to mail it in that night, but their fans also exhibited their dedication right from the opening pitch in Game 4. A good friend of mine was back in his hometown of Boston at the time and even went out and bought a Red Sox cap after the Game 3 blowout which he claimed would be the key to a series comeback. I asked, “You mean people in Boston still care?” to which he responded, “As long as this team is playing, people here are going to be into it.”

Suns fans are showing that same dedication and this morning showed it via a hike of Piestewa Peak. FOX 10’s Cory McCloskey along with members of the Suns Dancers and the Adio Sol Patrol accompanied fans making the hike, all in hopes that watching the sun rise would equate to the Suns rising over the Spurs in tonight’s Game 5 in San Antonio.

It’s great to see fans sticking with this team to the dying end, and for everyone who made the hike, I actually have a proposal. My friend from Boston wore his newly purchased hat for each and every game of the 2004 American League Championship Series from Game 4 on. So should we win tonight – which I think we will – I think it’s imperative to the series you continue your tradition of hiking Piestewa Peak the morning of each and every game forward… It’s easy for me to suggest though, I slept in this morning.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
6:15 pm
Steve Koek

Sitting on the Suns bench with Mark West and media relation smanager vince kozar. A stray ball makes its way over to Big Daddy who flips it back to the ballboy. I called a foul on him.

Vince and I were commenting on how fortunate we are to have our jobs and wondering how many fans back in phoenix would kill to be where we were. We vowed to think about that more and not to take our positions for granted.

As for the game, it’s anyone’s guess. West says both teams will be playing hard, the suns will win if they play smart and slow down at least one of the spurs big three. I asked him point-blank if we win. Long pause, wide smile. “Yeah, I think we do. I think we take it back home.”

I think he’s right.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008
6:00 pm
Steve Koek

The team bus just pulled away from the hotel. A couple of dozen Suns fans waiting to catch a glimpse of players boarding and hopeful for an autograph were quietly undeterred by a Spurs fan who walked through them touting and taunting his home team’s championship successes. They also went undeterred by the players’ quick waves while shuffling into the bus. “That’s okay,” I heard one woman in a Suns shirt say. “They’re concentrating. I know they’re going to do it.”

The bus is characteristically quiet as we make our way to the AT-T Center. Players are in the back listening to their iPods or talking softly on their phones. Mike D’Antoni’s front row seat doesn’t appear to be any hotter than normal as he plows his way through his daily crossword puzzles. But we all know it is. Despite a couple of minor media brush-offs, mike has handled recent events with the class he has exhibited since coming to the Valley some six years ago as an assistant.

—-

We arrived at the arena safely and the Suns are going through their ritual pre-game warm-ups. I just ran into Kurt Thomas in the series of mazes they call an event level here. Dirty is always as nice as could be, from post-game interviews after tough losses to the time I ran into him at the airport. He actually told me this series could go seven and live up to the billing of best first round series ever. He said it in an “anything-can-happen sort of way,” but at this point I’ll take it as a good sign for Planet Orange tonight.