PHOENIX (AP)—The San Antonio Spurs need only look back a few days for a reminder that a Game 1 playoff loss in Phoenix is not the end of the world.
“Honestly we’d love to have got that one to kind of get them on their heels,” Tim Duncan(notes) said after the Spurs practiced on Tuesday, “but we still have an opportunity to steal homecourt here tomorrow, and we’re going to do just that. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up. We feel if we do just that, we give ourselves a real good chance.”
A San Antonio victory in Game 2 Wednesday night would send the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series to San Antonio tied 1-1. In the first round, the Spurs lost Game 1 in Dallas, then won Game 2 and eliminated the Mavericks in six.
The Spurs watched video of Monday night’s 111-102 loss and came away liking their Game 2 chances.
“We made so many mistakes,” Manu Ginobili(notes) said, “but at the same time, with all those mistakes, all those flaws we had, we were pretty close. … We are optimistic in that regard. We can play so much better.”
Parker said an abrupt “no” when asked if thought he would start.
He has been coming off the bench since his return April 6 after missing 16 games with a broken bone in his right hand. George Hill(notes) has been the starter, but Steve Nash(notes) made Hill look like a statue early in Game 1. The Suns’ playmaker made his first five shots and had 17 points by the end of the first quarter. He finished with 33 points and 10 assists, the sixth “30-10” playoff game of his career.
Hill struggled all night at both ends of the court, finishing with nine points on 2 of 7 shooting.
Parker has given the Suns fits throughout his career. He had 26 points in 35 minutes on Monday.
“They go up-tempo. There are a lot of possessions,” Parker said. “I like to play up and down. That’s why I think I’ve always been very successful against them.”
Ginobili said Parker “is huge in this series because of the way he attacks seams.”
“It also puts Nash in trouble, too, having to chase him,” Ginobili said. “So we definitely need Tony a lot, but the same way we need everybody else.”
Nash had rested his strained right hip for three days, and was uncertain how he would feel when Game 1 tipped off.
“I was a little nervous about it,” he said on Tuesday. “But I felt great and I had no setbacks, so I am really excited about that. I hopefully can play the series out and be as much help as possible.”
Parker said Nash’s early offensive assault was “a little bit” of a surprise. Nash expects a much more aggressive defense against him on Wednesday.
“This team’s been through it all,” he said of the Spurs. “They know what they’re doing. They’ve come back from deficits or losses already this year. We expect a great effort for them. They’ll make adjustments and we have to be ready to respond.”
Ginobili, playing with a broken nose and defended most of the game by Grant Hill(notes), overcame a slow start to finish with 27 points on 9 of 20 shooting, 2 of 9 from 3-point range. Overall, the Spurs made 4 of 19 3s to 7 of 20 for Phoenix.
Jason Richardson(notes) had another big offensive game for the Suns with 27 points on 10 of 16 shooting. He made 3 of 6 3-pointers, including a huge one with 1:23 to play. He is averaging 24 points per game in the playoffs, shooting 54 percent overall and 51 percent on 3s.
He is an impressively accurate barometer of Phoenix’s success. The Suns are 30-4 this season when Richardson scores at least 20.
“It’s great right now,” he said. “In the playoffs, there’s so much energy and so much action. This is what players live for. This is all I’ve wanted for my whole career and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
“After that, we’ll see,” Gentry said.
The 7-footer has been out since March 26 with a back injury (bulging disk) but has been increasingly active in practice.
Before Monday’s win, Phoenix had lost three straight Game 1s to the Spurs, two of them at home. San Antonio still has another, ultimately more important, streak going. The Spurs have won four straight playoff series against the Suns.