Duncan sets the Spurs up, Mason knocks it down

The problem with the Suns’ decision to move to a slower tempo is that the Spurs are simply better at that style of play. Even with San Antonio’s inability to score late in the fourth quarter (due in part to Tony Parker’s dry spell), I just had a feeling that the Spurs were going to pull this one out.

In addition to his 25 points and 17 rebounds, Tim Duncan successfully defended Amare Stoudemire on three straight possessions despite being called for his fifth foul minutes earlier. Duncan isn’t terribly athletic, but he’s one of the best defensive big men of all time due to his incredible discipline and timing. He rarely leaves his feet and knows how to avoid fouling. It’s quite remarkable, really.

The Suns took the lead after Michael Finley got screened and Parker failed to pick up Grant Hill as he sliced to the rim for an easy bucket. It’s not clear if Parker was supposed to switch or if Finley was supposed to stay with his guy, but regardless, it was a rare defensive breakdown for the Spurs.

The game-winning possession started with Parker penetrating to the left side of the lane. Gregg Popovich brought in the sharp-shooting Roger Mason, and planted him in the corner. Parker’s penetration forced Jason Richardson to help, though he should have stayed on Mason. Parker found the open Mason in the corner and he knocked down the game-winning shot.

It was a great win for the Spurs and it proved that the Suns still have a long way to go before they’ll be considered a legitimate contender in the West.

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