NBA Game Summary - San Antonio at Phoenix
(Thursday, December 25th)
Final Score: San Antonio 91, Phoenix 90
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Roger Mason's three-pointer at the buzzer was the difference, as the San Antonio Spurs edged the Phoenix Suns, 91-90, at US Airways Center.
Trailing by one after a Grant Hill layup with 4.3 seconds to go, San Antonio called timeout in order to move the ball to half court. Tony Parker received the inbounds pass and immediately faced a double team. He found Mason wide open from three-point range, and Mason drained the shot from the left corner.
"Coach (Gregg Popovich) drew up a play for (Parker) to get the ball up top," Mason said. "We had shooters in the corner and (forward Tim Duncan) down low. I think (Parker) penetrated, and he might have had a look and found me in the corner. You stay ready, that's what this game is about. I knew if I had it I was going to shoot it and hopefully it would go in, and thank God it did."
Parker scored 27 points and dished out eight assists for the Spurs, who have won 10 of 12 and snapped a three-game skid to the Suns. Duncan tallied 25 points and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds to give San Antonio its fourth straight win overall. Michael Finley tallied 12 points, while Manu Ginobili had 11 in the win.
"Huge win for us, huge finish for us, hard fought all the way through," Duncan said. "They got a jump on us early, and they did a really good job of sticking with it. Just a huge shot from (Mason), so we're fortunate."
Mason recorded seven points, but his final three proved to be the most important.
"(The last shot) was designed to go to (Parker) with shooters in the corners and (Parker) makes the decision on what's available," Popovich said. "We don't care if its a two or a three; if you've got a three, take it."
Amare Stoudemire had a team-high 25 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, who had a five-game home winning streak broken. They've lost two of three overall.
"I think we played well enough to win," Stoudemire said. "We played solid defensively, we rebounded the ball well, we played upside defense and did everything we could and had to win. Unfortunately, (Mason) hit a three in the corner. It happens sometimes."
Shaquille O'Neal is the third all-time leading scorer on Christmas, netting 23 points to bring his total to 259. He stands only eight points behind former teammate Kobe Bryant, who scored 27 points in a win against the Celtics Thursday to bring his career total to 267. Oscar Robertson is the all-time leader with 377 points on Christmas Day. O'Neal also recorded 12 rebounds in the loss.
"Not a good way to have Christmas end on us," Suns head coach Terry Porter said. "Guys played hard, played well enough to win that game. Again, just came up on the short end. I thought (Hill) did a great job, and we just had a breakdown our last possession for those guys defensively."
Steve Nash had 13 points and eight assists, bringing his career assist total to 7,001. He becomes only the 13th player in NBA history to reach that distinctive mark. Hill had 16 points for the Suns, while Jason Richardson posted 11 points and eight rebounds.
Stoudemire gave the Suns an eight-point lead early in the fourth on a three- point play, but Ginobili hit a three and converted a layup to make it a 79-75 Spurs deficit with 10 minutes left.
Duncan and Finley each hit jumpers to tie the game at 79 with 8 1/2 minutes on the clock. Parker made consecutive baskets, as his jumper with 3:27 left gave San Antonio an 88-84 advantage.
Richardson drained a three for Phoenix, and each team failed on consecutive possessions to keep it a one-point contest. Parker was assessed a technical foul for arguing a no-call, and Nash converted the free throw with a minute to go to tie the game at 88.
Stoudemire was off on a layup attempt, but Parker couldn't give the Spurs the lead after missing his attempt at a layup. After the last Suns timeout with 7.7 seconds left, Hill passed to Stoudemire, who passed back to Hill for an easy layup with 4.3 seconds on the clock.
"It was a tough game. The whole game we just tried to stay in it," Parker said, "Up one, we had some great opportunities to take a little lead, and we missed a couple layups, and then it was down to that play with Hill, when we were trying to focus on Nash and should have switched it. They made a great play, and we came back and made a great play, too."
The Suns made their first five shots of the game en route to an 11-0 lead, but the Spurs cut the deficit to five with 1:16 left on the heels of an 8-0 run.
Stoudemire led the game with 12 points in the first 12 minutes, and Phoenix took a 27-18 lead into the second.
Hill put the Suns up 10 with 3:34 left in the second, but the Spurs went on an 8-0 flurry to cut the deficit to two on Matt Bonner's three with 2 1/2 minutes left. Phoenix scored the last four points of the quarter for a 45-39 halftime edge.
Parker hit a jumper five minutes into the third to tie the game at 52, and Duncan's jumper at the 6:30 mark put San Antonio in front for the first time in the contest.
Nash put the Suns ahead again, 56-54, with a baseline jumper, and he followed up with a three-point play to give the Suns a five-point lead.
The Spurs employed the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy in the final minute of the period, fouling O'Neal three times in hopes that he would miss his free throws; however, he made 5-of-6, and the Suns took a 76-71 lead to the fourth.
The season series is tied, 1-1...The Suns committed 14 turnovers, while the Spurs recorded only six...San Antonio shot 41.8 percent (38-of-91) from the field, while Phoenix shot 45.3 percent (34-of-75)...Phoenix has lost four straight on Christmas Day and fell to 11-6 all-time.
12/25 20:01:24 ET