Suns Eclipse Spurs


Even in victory, Jason Kidd of the Phoenix Suns was a bit envious of the San Antonio Spurs.

"They never show any fluster or anxiousness whether they're up 10 or down 10," Kidd said after his two late baskets helped the Suns to a 77-74 victory Sunday night. "They just keep plugging away. They're still the defending champs, so this win doesn't mean anything."

Kidd gave Phoenix its first lead with a 17-foot jumper from the top of the key with 57 seconds remaining, hit another 14 seconds later, and the Suns held on despite a gritty rally by the Spurs.

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  • He got the second basket when teammate Penny Hardaway tipped an inbounds pass from Tim Duncan of the Spurs directly to him. Kidd passed the ball back to Hardaway, got it back and drove to the edge of the lane for the shot that made it 71-67.

    On the Spurs' next possession, Avery Johnson missed a layup, Duncan failed to tap it in, and Luc Longley of the Suns rebounded with 33 seconds left. That led to a layup by Tom Gugliotta and a 73-67 lead with 27 seconds to play.

    But San Antonio fought back, with David Robinson making a layup and Terry Porter hitting a layup and a 3-pointer over the next 22 seconds.

    Porter's 3-pointer cut the lead to 75-74 with 5.1 seconds to go, but Kidd added two free throws for the final margin.

    "When you lose like this it's hard, because you know every little play down the stretch that didn't get done," Robinson said, citing four missed fre throws over the final 3:37.

    "We deserved to lose this game because we didn't play a solid game," said Robinson, who played only 22 minutes and was held to 12 points and 10 rebounds because of foul trouble.

    Duncan, who had 15 points and 17 rebounds, missed two free throws with 1:53 remaining and the score tied at 67, and Kidd hustled into the lane to get the rebound.

    "We went out there, made turnovers and missed free throws things that can't happen if you want to win," Duncan said.

    Kidd finished with 23 points, and Rodney Rogers had 12 of his 18 in the fourth quarter as Phoenix battled back from a 15-point, third-quarter deficit.

    "I was wide open with the shots, and I had to take them," Rogers said. "Coach (Danny) Ainge always tells us if you have an open shot go ahead and take it, and I was able to knock them down."

    Hardaway had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

    The loss denied the Spurs what would have been a franchise-record 4-0 start. The Spurs also won their first three in 1984-85.

    The Spurs led 58-51 going into the fourth quarter, but Rogers scored nine consecutive points over a 4@1/2-minute stretch, cutting the deficit to 65-62 with a 17-footer with 3:55 to play.

    Then Longley made an 18-footer over Robinson, and, after a dunk by Robinson, Rogers hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 67 with 2:17 to go.

    Robinson, who played nine minutes in the first half, picked up his fourth foul and went back to the bench when he backed into Gugliotta 3:37 into the third quarter.

    It didn't seem to matter immediately Malik Rose made two free throws 26 seconds later, and the Spurs took their biggest lead of the game, 48-33.

    But Gugliotta made two baskets during a 9-0 spurt and, after a dunk by Rose, Oliver Miller hit two free throws and Kidd made a 3-pointer to complete a 14-2 run. With 4:13 left in the third quarter, the Suns were back in it at 50-47.

    Notes

  • Suns guard Rex Chapman re-sprained his left ankle with 24 seconds left in the first quarter, but returned in the third quarter.
  • The Spurs had won eight straight counting their last five of 1998-99.
  • The victory was No. 200 for the Suns (200-73) in the America West Arena, winning seven years to the night since the building opened, Nov. 7, 1992.
  • Although the Suns have won just one game in each of their last two playoff series with the Spurs, they are 10-4 in the last 14 regular season meetings.

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