Suns burn Spurs for 2-0 lead
By BOB BAUM
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns took a stand, and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Los Suns ganaron. That means the Suns won.
Amare Stoudemire had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Channing Frye made 5 of 63-pointers, and Phoenix, wearing its orange "Los Suns" jerseys in part to protest Arizona's new anti-immigration law, pulled away for a 110-102 victory over the San Antonio Spurs last night.
Steve Nash and Jason Richardson scored 19 points apiece and Grant Hill added 18 in a grind-it-out game played at the Spurs' pace until the Suns started hitting 3-pointers. After starting 1 of 7 from long range, Phoenix made 8 of its next 12.
Tim Duncan had 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Richard Jefferson rebounded from a poor Game 1 with 18 points and 10 boards for San Antonio. Tony Parker added 20 points.
The best-of-seven series shifts to San Antonio for Game 3 tomorrow night.
"I have to say the impressive thing to me with the win was the team effort," Nash said. "So many guys made plays for our team tonight, and I can't remember really being a part of a team that's had so many guys step up and play well."
Manu Ginobili, guarded mainly by Hill, was 2 of 8 from the field, including just 1 of 2 in the second half, but had 11 assists for San Antonio. Hill also made two big shots down the stretch.
"Grant Hill never ceases to amaze me," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "There's a 37-year-old — he hates when I say that. Here's a guy who plays on our team that's been in the league for a long, long time. He just does a good job. Everything we ask him to do, never complains. He's always on the best perimeter player. He never complains. He just plays. He'll forever be my favorite player. He really will."
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich singled out Frye.
"He might have had one that was open, but the rest were contested," Popovich said. "When he does that, they're very, very difficult to guard."
The Spurs outshot Phoenix 51 percent to 42 percent but the Suns outrebounded taller San Antonio 49-37, 18-7 on the offensive boards. Stoudemire made 5 of 16 shots but was 11 of 13 at the free throw line. The Suns outscored the Spurs by 14 at the line, going 29 of 37 to San Antonio's 15 of 22.
The score was nearly identical to Game 1, won by Phoenix 111-102.
There was almost no evidence in the loud arena of the storm stirred up on Tuesday when Suns owner Robert Sarver issued a statement saying the team would wear "Los Suns" on their jerseys, to celebrate diversity on Cinco de Mayo but also to protest the immigration bill passed by the Arizona legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
"I'm proud of our owner for making this stand but we're not out there to alienate," Nash said. "We want this to be all about love in our community. People, regardless of whether they agree with me or not, we have love for everybody."
The bill has drawn criticism from civil rights groups and others, including President Barrack Obama, who called it "misguided."
Obama even mentioned the issue at a news conference yesterday, referring to the series between the Spurs "and Los Suns of Phoenix."
"The team stood up for that part of our community because I think that's the side of this bill that could open the door to racial profiling and racism," Nash said. "and I'm talking about American citizens who are Latino. Their quality of life and freedoms could change because of this bill."
There was one lone protester outside the arena and few if any seemed to boycott the game, as some had threatened on talk radio early in the day.
Referee Ron Garretson left the game after the third quarter with a leg injury. Fellow ref Joey Crawford said Garretson injured his Achilles' tendon. Substitute referee David Jones worked the final quarter.
Hornets: Mike Fratello interviewed with the New Orleans Hornets about the club's head coaching vacancy yesterday, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
Hornets executives met with Fratello in Cleveland, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club has not officially announced interviewing Fratello.
Fratello has coached the equivalent of about 15 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies. His last coaching stint was in Memphis from 2004-06.
Celtics: Boston big men Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins skipped practice with injuries yesterday, but coach Doc Rivers said he expects both to play in Game 3 tomorrow night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Garnett has a mild strain in the middle of his right foot and Perkins has a hyperextended right knee.
NBA All-Defensive team: Kobe Bryant is on the NBA all-defensive first team for the fifth straight year.
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo made the first team for the first time, earning the second-most points behind the league's defensive player of the year, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace also made the team for the first time, with the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James making it for the second straight year.