February sure seems like a long time ago. Three months after nearly being dismantled at the trade deadline, the Suns are eight wins away from an NBA championship, courtesy of a gritty 107-101 win over San Antonio that advanced Phoenix to the Western Conference finals
"They made it hard for us to guard them for 48 minutes," said Spurs coach
Indeed, in Game 4 it was old reliables
Nash, whose total accumulated blood loss attests to the effort he has put in during a career spent battling San Antonio, spilled a little more when an errant third-quarter elbow by Duncan opened a gash above his right eye that required six stitches to close. With the eye swollen shut, Nash scored 10 points (on 4-of-8 shooting) and dished out five assists in the final 12 minutes to keep the Spurs from sneaking back in the game.
"He's just a determined person," said Suns coach
"I don't want to glorify it but it has been a long time since I have beaten this team," said Nash. "I tried to do everything I had to do to close them out tonight."
Nash also revealed that the Suns' confidence was higher going into this series because the size discrepancy between the two teams wasn't as wide as it had been in previous years. In the past, the Spurs paired Duncan with big bodies like
"He has had a tougher time since [the broken nose]," said Popovich. "It wasn't due to a lack of effort. It just [didn't] work out for him."
"This season was rough for us," said Popovich. "They made it to the second round of the playoffs. I'm proud of what they did and that's that."
Obviously the changes Popovich and Co. made coming into the season -- specifically the additions of
"I really think so," said Ginobili when asked if the Spurs can still contend. "I have been telling people this for five years, when people [first] started talking about age. I think we are always competitive. I would go with these guys again."