NBA: Jefferson, Spurs halt Suns’ winning streak at 5
By PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press Writer
SAN ANTONIO — Richard Jefferson scored 20 points in his best game since losing his starting job, and the San Antonio Spurs beat Phoenix 113-110 on Sunday to end the Suns’ five-game winning streak.
Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 41 points and 12 rebounds for Phoenix, but Jefferson and the Spurs hung on late to hand the Suns only their second loss since the All-Star break.
Phoenix also had an embarrassing hand in its demise.
Jason Richardson could’ve tied the game with about 40 seconds left but blew an uncontested dunk on a fast break. With no one in front of him, Richardson’s one-handed slam ricocheted off the rim, while his teammates watched in disbelief.
Tim Duncan had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili also scored 21, including 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Against the NBA’s top-scoring team, the Spurs gutted out only their second win in their last five games. Phoenix came in as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won 11 of its previous 13.
The Suns certainly had their chances to extend that streak.
Stoudemire had 14 points in the fourth and Richardson half of his 20 points in the quarter, missing only one shot in the fourth — but it was a big one.
His blown dunk turned out to be Phoenix’s best chance to tie the game. Steve Nash heaved a long 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left to get Phoenix within one, and the Suns had one more shot left after Ginobili sank two free throws.
But needing to go the length of floor with 3.2 seconds left, Nash passed up a 3-pointer and instead passed to Channing Frye as the clock expired.
Nash had 18 points and 11 assists. Stoudemire was 15 of 28 from the floor and eclipsed 30 points for the fifth time in the past 13 games.
Tony Parker, returning to the San Antonio lineup after missing Friday’s loss at Houston because of an illness, scored 16 points. Reserve DeJuan Blair added 14 points.
But no reserve was bigger for the Spurs than Jefferson. Demoted to the bench two weeks ago after not meeting expectations as a high-priced starter, Jefferson eclipsed 20 points for the first time in two months.
He came in off the bench for the fifth time in six games, a role the career starter appears likely to keep the rest of the season. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game that Jefferson has better “focus” in his reserve role while sidestepping his disappointment as a starter.
Jefferson’s 20 points were the most since he had 24 in a win over Milwaukee on Dec. 29. He was 7-of-11 from the field and hit two 3-pointers.
Frye added 11 for the Suns.
NOTES: The Spurs will see plenty of Suns-caliber opponents the rest of the way. Sixteen of their remaining 26 games are against teams with winning records. ...Spurs F Antonio McDyess had 12 points and nine rebounds, and returned to the game after being helped to the locker room in the third quarter with a hyperextended left knee.