Day 9 of our 30-team NBA playoff flashback profiles the Phoenix Suns. The Suns franchise has never won an NBA title, and has 16 playoff appearances since the 1991-92 season.
Date: May 14, 2007
Situation: The No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns trail the No. 3 seed San Antonio Spurs, 2-1, heading to Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Context: Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Mike D’Antoni’s seven second or less offense carried the Suns to a 61-21 record and Pacific Division title. Phoenix scored at least 100 points in 68 of 82 games, en route to a league-best 110.2 points per game. In the first round of the playoffs, the Suns cruised, defeating the No. 7 Lakers in five games. Phoenix stumbled out of the gates in the semifinals, though, dropping the series opener to San Antonio, 111-106, to relinquish home court advantage. The two teams split the next two games, setting up Game 4 in San Antonio.
Recap: The Spurs looked on their way to a 3-1 series lead, heading to the fourth quarter up eight, 80-72. And with time running down, San Antonio still had control, leading 97-92. Led by Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, though, the Suns surged back in the final minutes, finishing the game on a 12-1 run to get the win. What unfolded in the closing moments, though, wound up being the story of the game. With 18 seconds left, Robert Horry checked Steve Nash into the scorer’s table. Horry was hit with a flagrant foul, and was ejected from the game, and Raja Bell, who briefly pursued Horry after the foul, was given a technical. Over on the sideline, Stoudemire and Boris Diaw appeared to leave the bench. With NBA rules stating that players leaving the bench were subject to a one-game suspension, Phoenix was forced to wait and see if the NBA would suspend two of its best players for Game 5. Phoenix won, 104-98.
Top players: Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 26 points on 9-for-18 shooting. Steve Nash (24 points, 15 assists) and Shawn Marion (12 points, 12 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles. Five Spurs scored in double figures, led by Tony Parker with 23.
After the game: Two days after the game, the NBA announced that both Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw would be suspended for Game 5 of the series. Robert Horry was also suspended two games for the flagrant foul. The ruling was met with a great deal of controversy, both because of the timing — a one game suspension in the playoffs for stepping away from the bench was panned as being excessive — and because Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who had also “left the immediate vicinity” (the official wording of the NBA’s rule) of the Spurs’ bench, wasn’t suspended. San Antonio beat the shorthanded Suns 88-85 in Game 5, and went on to win Game 6 on the road, 114-106, to eliminate Phoenix. The Spurs beat the Jazz in the West finals, then swept the Cavs in the NBA Finals.
Check back tomorrow for the Jazz.
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