Release Us All
I'm not around to make picks, so I'm not going to bemoan my "Suns are lost souls" proclamation. Up to that point, they were, and until late in the fourth, I saw nothing definite growing from out their foreheards. The Recluse told me to "have faith," but it was difficult. Even when the Suns pulled up close to the Spurs, and tried to whisper menace at them, San Antonio turned away. Hell, I didn't believe Phoenix would win until that Horry debacle happened. Then I knew the Spurs had thrown in the proverbial towel.
Some interesting Kerr talk last night from Kerr, on how Pop tells the team to "not be in a hurry to win games." You know, how the Spurs "just hang around" and "wear the opponent down gradually." Seems fairly consistent with what I wrote yesterday, no? I also find it particularly telling that the Suns, by contrast, excel at the "blitz" Pop discourages (somewhere, there is a Plaza. . . ). Face it, the signature Suns wins involve either jumping forth at the outset and never looking back, or doing so in the last few seconds as if the next game has already started. This all begs the question of whether that win was the Suns winning at the Spurs game, or the Phoenix at its finest. This might be hair-splitting, but think about this: beating the Spurs at the Spurs doesn't make them better than the Spurs at the Spurs' game, while overthrowing that dogma would be a milestone.
I know that Phoenix made their run sooner than usual, and it took a lot longer than we're conditioned to expect. But like I said, I didn't believe until those last two Amare baskets pushed them ahead. They missed free throws, which is uncharacteristic and very Spurs-like. And don't underestimate what it meant that they played defense down the stretch, allowing for a less-than-miraculous run and dropping those wonted Spurs daggers out of mid-air. I'd say San Antonio basketball is built on the theme of late-game excellence: emerge suddenly with a fourth quarter lead and hold off opponents' frazzled desperation, or creep up over their shoulder just before it's too late, but once the enemy has already gotten complacent.
But how did they get those crucial buckets? Fearlessly and creatively. Nash pushing the ball, feeding it exotically to Amare in movement, Stoudemire going right at Duncan the second time. It may not have been the Suns' entire run exhibiting a certain style, or following a certain narrative script. The most of their comeback baskets were hard-earned, not so pretty, and, in the thick of the fog of Spurs, seemed to barely stave off the inevitable. Up until those four points, they were stuck being rebellious slaves in SBC country. But after them, they seized that shit. The Suns decided to risk being the Suns, even if common sense and "playoff basketball" dictated otherwise. And they won the game. As with last night, I won't believe the Suns can win the series until it's over. I do firmly believe, however, that they'll view playing the Spurs in a different light from this point on.
Oh, and the foul? Roman empire burning itself.