Stoudemire helps beat Spurs, give Porter first Suns win

SAN ANTONIO -- Amare Stoudemire patiently waited until the fourth quarter before taking over and giving Terry Porter a win in his coaching debut.

Stoudemire scored 22 points -- 11 coming on 5-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter -- and four other Phoenix players scored in double figures to help the Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs 103-98 in the regular-season opener for both teams Wednesday night.

"It was just being patient," said Stoudemire, who had only six shots heading into the fourth quarter. "That's the main thing tonight -- just being patient. Just let the game come to me.

"There in the fourth quarter, I was able to get going."

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each scored 32 points for the Spurs, who were playing without guard Manu Ginobili who is out until December after ankle surgery.

Nash added 13 points and 13 assists for the Suns. Leandro Barbosa had 18 points, Shaquille O'Neal 15, and Grant Hill 13.

"Obviously, the first one is nice, especially on the road," said Porter, who was hired when Mike D'Antoni opted during the offseason to coach the New York Knicks.

"Our guys really gutted it out tonight," he said. "It was great to see that down the stretch."

San Antonio won a five-game series over the Suns in the first round of the playoffs last season, partly on a long 3-pointer by Duncan late in Game 1. Duncan tried another 3-pointer Wednesday that would have tied the game, but it bounced off the front of the rim with eight seconds left.

"I thought, 'Oh, no. Not again,'" Stoudemire said. "Luckily he missed that one, we got the rebound and went down the floor."

Barbosa added two free throws with three seconds to go.

Stoudemire broke a tie game with 2:53 to go with a three-point play.

"Amare was huge for us down the stretch," Porter said. "[Nash] also made a couple of big plays. It was a solid win for us and just a great way to start the season."

After Raja Bell stole the ball away from Duncan on the other end of the court, Stoudemire quickly scored on a fastbreak on an assist from Nash to give Phoenix a 99-94 lead with 2:31 remaining.

The turnover and quick basket angered Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was 12-0 in season-opening games.

"It was the worst transition defense I've seen in years," Popovich said. "I can't imagine how bad it was.

"Several people made poor decisions in the game down the stretch. It was very disappointing."

Bell stole the ball on a Duncan pass. Bell fired the ball to Nash, who set up Stoudemire for an easy layup.

Phoenix led 101-98 with less than a minute remaining, but Parker missed a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left before Duncan missed his try.

Once again the Spurs employed the Hack-a-Shaq that helped them last season in the playoffs. During the preseason, O'Neal called Popovich's liberal use of the Hack-a-Shaq during the first round last season "a coward move."

Popovich poked fun at O'Neal in the opening seconds of the ballgame when Michael Finley grabbed the big center away from the ball a scant five seconds into the game. O'Neal laughed when he looked over to the Spurs bench and saw Popovich smiling while giving two thumbs up.

"I thought it was funny -- bring a little humor to the game," Duncan said.

It got more serious before halftime when the Spurs employed the Hack-a-Shack four times in the final 1:26 with Phoenix leading 46-40.

Even though O'Neal made 5-of-8, the Spurs were able to cut the Suns' lead to 49-46 at halftime.

Before the grabbing and pulling was done, O'Neal got tangled with Ime Udoka. Udoka was motioning to the official that he was going to foul O'Neal, and O'Neal raised his left arm toward Udoka and sent the Spurs defender flat onto the floor. Udoka was called for the foul and O'Neal made both shots.

Game notes
Matt Barnes, signed by Phoenix after playing in Golden State last season, made his first shot -- a 3-pointer -- 54 seconds into the game and missed six straight after that and finished 3-of-10. ... The Spurs announced before the game that they have exercised the team's third-year option on 2005 first-round pick Ian Mahinmi, a 22-year-old who's played in six NBA games. ... The Spurs expect C Fabricio Oberto to miss at least two games after the atrial fibrillation condition in his heart was diagnosed and treated Tuesday.