Suns vs. Spurs Bullets

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  • Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic: "Mike D'Antoni didn't fully realize it until he looked at the game film. The Suns coach saw it on a couple defensive plays. Grant Hill was hurting. 'He kind of fooled me,' D'Antoni said before Sunday's practice at the AT&T Center. 'I'm going to have to talk with him a little bit. If he's hurting, he's got to tell.' Hill, 35, suffered a groin strain in March, aggravated it last week against Golden State and has yet to recover. Just when he feels fine, he tweaks it, which is what happened during the first quarter of Saturday's 117-115 double-overtime loss to the Spurs.'Throughout the course of the game, it started to wear on me,' Hill said."

  • Paul Coro of the The Arizona Republic: "The debate of whether the Suns should foul in the final seconds with a 3-point lead or try to defend the 3-point shot raged on today. Apparently, Suns coach Mike D'Antoni caught wind of how many fans assailed his choice not to foul. Or if he didn't know about the postgame radio show or the message boards, he was hearing the questions about it today and defended it. Here is a sample of what he said: 'It's tough. Some players might be able to do it. Some teams might be able to do it. There are some situations that are easier. If there is three or four seconds left and they're taking in an inbounds, you foul immediately. OK, I can understand that. But when they've got the ball with 12 seconds, what do you foul right then and then they're going to foul you and it becomes free throw shooting and you also open yourself up to losing the game. It's just not in our nature.'"

  • Related to that point, this is a quote from a Jack McCallum Sports Illustrated article about last shots, published last week: "If you're up three, should you deliberately foul to avoid a potential game-tying three-pointer? And no matter what the score is, should you stick with your defensive principles or try to scheme the play, perhaps with a matchup zone? There are no absolutes, but in general NBA teams do not foul and do not use gimmicks. 'Guys in our league get shots off too quickly to deliberately foul,' says an Eastern Conference coach. 'You don't want to put the decision on whether or not a guy was shooting in the hands of a ref. They love to call continuation.'"

  • TrueHoop reader Isaac: "Watching the games between these two teams is becoming increasingly frustrating. To be fair, I hate the Spurs, and I feel like something is wrong with the world if they win yet another series against the Suns. I don't like the Suns for any reason other than they are enjoyable to watch and I feel that on some level they 'deserve' to win. On to my frustration: the Spurs are huge babies. This applies to Popovich, Duncan, and seemingly every other player on the court. Duncan has his Duncan Face everytime he doesn't get a call. Ginobli lays out every single play that he is even slightly touched as if he is in a soccer match. Oberto definitely does a lot of acting to get Shaq in foul trouble each time these teams play. The trend I've seen is really disturbing though. The players and Popovich complain to the refs in the opening quarter and it seems to make the refs subconsciously favor the Spurs on the calls from then on out. Don't the league execs heavily monitor these games to ensure that the refs are calling the games right? At this point doesn't someone have to crack down on all the bs that the Spurs players employ in order to get cheap fouls called in their favor. These games are all unequivocally amazing to watch and they get ruined because of ridiculous foul calls." UPDATE: I know a lot of people are fired up about this comment, and take is as some evidence that I am a Spurs-basher. Isaac is a Spurs basher, perhaps. Me! No. Honestly, I hate no NBA team, and have particular respect for the Spurs, whom I have lauded again and again as a role model franchise. Off the top of my head, and this. I could go on and on. So why include this? Because it's indicative of the way a lot of people think. Isaac speaks for thousands, and there's no point in pretending it ain't so. You might read that and decide the Spurs are whiners, or you might read that and decide Suns fans are whiners. Or maybe something in between. Up to you. But please don't read that and decide I have some agenda, other than to talk basketball the smartest way I know how. Also -- I'm one of the only sportswriters out there who will actually tell you if I'm rooting hard for a team! No need to be suspicious.

  • TrueHoop reader Tim emails: "In the half court, if Duncan continues to get the ball with low position, rather than 12 feet from the hoop, Phoenix has a nightmare on its hands. Shaq and Stoudemire will be in constant foul trouble. When Duncan fronts from 12 feet, O'Neal does a fair job on him, but on the block he'll lose. The Stoudemire/O'Neal block count is deceiving -- typically the block Duncan from their athleticism and not from good position. Most of the time Duncan turns them every which way. Stoudemire is always playing D with his arms and hops and never with his head or legs; O'Neal gives good effort but doesn't move as well as he used to. The refs will be big in every game of this series. Having said that, Phoenix should be optimistic. They should just play their game and hope their bigs stay out of foul trouble and that their coach can clean up the mental goofs. They played a better game the first time around. ... And did you see that Ian Mahinmi killed in the D-League semi-finals? Small thing, but Austin looks like the favorites to win the title. The Spurs have an obsession with winning. Mahinmi's game is much like Stoudemire's -- he's a human pogo stick. Catch, bounce, dunk. Obviously he doesn't have the same ceiling, but he could be a quality rim-attacking rotational big in the not too distant future. That 2005 draft might produce 15 or so legit NBA players, with a few superstars. Good draft."

  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News on Tim Duncan's three-pointer: "If the Spurs go on to lose this series, Duncan's I-just-threw-it-up-there shot will only suggest they should have lost the series earlier. If the Spurs go on to win, then someone will make a few bucks off a revised greatest-hits DVD. Saturday will become
    part of a stirring series of shots, and, for those who remember the way it used to be, this is some change for the Spurs."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Suns center Shaquille O'Neal won't be adjusting his style of play in hopes of avoiding the early foul trouble that limited him to 30 minutes and 20 seconds in Saturday's double-overtime Game 1 of the Spurs-Suns Western Conference first-round series. 'I ain't changing nothing,' O'Neal said Sunday morning. 'I've got 700 days left (on his contract), and I ain't changing a (expletive) thing. Screw that. I got four (rings) doing it my way, and I'm going to continue doing it my way.' O'Neal was still angry Sunday that he had been called for three offensive fouls on what he said were 'flops' by Spurs players. He praised the physical inside play of Spurs power forward Tim Duncan, then promised he would not resort to flopping in hopes of drawing fouls on the Spurs' star."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "During his Heat tenure, it was one of the things that so frustrated when it came to O'Neal, the refusal to adjust to such situations. By now, every team has a mosquito in the lane, wanting nothing more than to draw contact from O'Neal and the David-vs.-Goliath call that comes every time. To play the blame game, challenge the opponent's manliness, only ducks the issue. It's like those Old Spice deodorant commercials: 'Flopping. Is it right for me?' Answer: 'Yes, Andres, it's right for you.' 'Yes, Kurt, it's right for you.' 'Yes, Argentine guy with the ponytail, it's right for you.' Enough with the excuses. They didn't play well in South Florida during the playoffs. They won't play well in Phoenix. Greatness finds a way. 'I'm not going to change my game,' O'Neal said after Game 1 of Suns-Spurs, 'so hopefully they let me play.' More likely, he'll again be forced to pay."

  • Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune: "The sun came up Sunday morning. The Suns? Yeah, they got up too, although some were more well rested than others. 'We've lost tough games like that before in our career,' Grant Hill said. 'There's nothing we can do about it now. Just learn from it and move on.' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't quite as pragmatic. He spent much of Saturday night tossing and turning, replaying the plays and decisions that didn't go Phoenix's way in Game 1. Sunday was his day 'of mourning.' 'By Tuesday I'll flush it away, but I'm dying right now,' D'Antoni said."