The Suns turned to their two-time Most Valuable Player in the closing minutes of Game 5 Tuesday. For one of the few times in his career, Steve Nash didn’t respond.
Nash committed three turnovers in the final two minutes of Phoenix’s 92-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The uncharacteristic finish ended an uncharacteristic game for Nash, who made just 4 of 16 shots and had more turnovers (five) than assists (three).
“I know I made a couple of key turnovers that cost us,” Nash said.
Suns coach Mike D’Antoni believes Nash was thrown off when Phoenix ran its offense through forward Boris Diaw to take advantage of the mismatch he had in the low post.
“When we do that through Boris we are a different team,” D’Antoni said. “We had to switch identities and that takes adjustment periods for everything you do. We have to adjust or change the points of reference on the floor, ball movement on the floor — you are affected without a doubt.”
Nash said he thought the Suns “improvised too much” offensively.
“We didn’t run sets that we were used to running,” he said. … “We probably should have calmed down a little bit. I’ll take responsibility for that.”
HERNIA FOR HILL?
With an ever-present ice bag tucked inside his practice shorts at the morning shootaround, Grant Hill was resigned to not playing in Game 5. He was inactive for the first time in the series, replaced on the bench by rookie Alando Tucker.
And after playing in 70 games and resurrecting his injury-prone career during the regular season, to have to watch another chance to win his first NBA playoff series is yet another in a series of professional disappointments.
“We looked better without me (in Game 4), so let’s keep winning,” Hill said. “The last two weeks have been hard. Thinking about the whys … the hows … it’s a pretty tough thing. I just have to keep hoping that I have more to give, that there will be enough time.”
Hill’s abdominal/groin injury has some of the telltale signs of his second sports hernia — a tear in the muscles of the lower abdomen that can lead to the muscle pulling away from the bones. An MRI taken before Game 3 didn’t confirm the fears, but a true diagnosis is only possible through an arthroscopic examination.
After finally overcoming foot and ankle problems, Hill missed all but 19 games of the 2005-06 season with the hernia, which required surgery. At that time, he said he would consider retirement if he was faced with another surgery.
For the third time in as many games in San Antonio, a good first half of work by Phoenix unraveled in the final minutes of the first half.
The Suns reeled in a 30-22, late-first-quarter deficit with a 17-6 run, capped by a Shaquille O’Neal dunk and a 39-36 lead. But the Spurs, who cut deeply into Phoenix leads in Games 1 and 2 just before halftime, outscored the Suns 18-6 over the final 5:40 and ended the half with seven straight points. Tony Parker’s 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left gave San Antonio its biggest lead (54-45) at intermission.
DON’T EVEN ASK ME
First, Dallas’ Jason Kidd avoided a suspension for his horse-collar tackle on Janero Pargo of New Orleans on Sunday. Then Monday, neither Boston’s Kendrick Perkins nor Atlanta’s Marvin Williams were suspended after both admitted going on the court to “observe” the skirmish between Kevin Garnett of the Celtics and Zaza Pachulia of the Hawks — with NBA Commissioner David Stern watching from the stands.
But none of the Suns were interested in comparing the decision to Game 4 of last year’s Suns-Spurs series — when Amaré Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended a game from “leaving the vicinity of the bench.”
D’Antoni’s only reaction was, “I have enough problems of my own.”