Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/29

Game 1: Friday, November 29th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 14th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 4th
Game 4: Sunday, April 13th

Spurs 85

(59-21, 26-14 away)

Suns 92

(44-36, 30-11 home)

    Coverage: KRRT

    6:00 PM ET, April 13, 2003

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 20 18 24 2385
    PHX 15 28 27 2292

    Top Performers

    SA: T. Duncan 15 Pts, 7 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    PHX: S. Marbury 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 10 Ast

    Suns defeat Spurs for third time this season

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Phoenix is back in the playoffs, and probably headed for a first-round matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, a team the Suns have given fits all season.

    Sunday night was no exception.

    Shawn Marion scored 24 points and Stephon Marbury had 23 points and 10 assists as the Suns snapped the Spurs' 11-game winning streak and clinched the West's final playoff berth 92-85.

    Joe Johnson scored 20, 11 in the third quarter, and had four steals as the Suns became the only team to beat the Spurs three times this season.

    "It is a concern,'' Tim Duncan said. "They've given us trouble all season long, and I have no doubt they'll give us trouble in the playoffs.''

    Penny Hardaway and Amare Stoudemire each added 10 points. Hardaway sank two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Stoudemire had two big plays in the final minutes.

    No one was more thrilled than Marbury, who after his best NBA season is in the playoffs for the first time since 1998, his second year as a pro.

    "It means everything to me,'' Marbury said. "I'm just elated right now. I'm probably the happiest person on this earth right now.''

    Phoenix shot 52 percent to win its fourth in a row and eighth in its last 10.

    San Antonio still needs a victory or a Dallas loss to clinch home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. That would mean a first-round matchup against Phoenix. The Spurs are at Utah Monday night, then finish their regular-season at home against Dallas on Wednesday.

    Malik Rose scored 18 for the Spurs, who had won nine road games in a row, and 17 of 18. Their only road loss since Jan. 27 was at Dallas on Feb. 20.

    Duncan, the object of aggressive double-teams all night, managed just 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting in 38 minutes.

    "That was their game plan,'' he said. "They came at me hard, and did a great job of rotating. We got the ball out of there. We just didn't hit some shots.''

    Emanuel Ginobili was the only other San Antonio player in double figures with 16 points.

    "Phoenix did a really great job tonight, being physical, really active defensively,'' San Antonio coach Greg Popovich said. "They did a wonderful job in that regard. I think that was really the difference in the game.''

    Stoudemire's rebound basket over Duncan put Phoenix up 88-81 with 2:19 to play. Duncan made two free throws, then Speedy Claxton hit the first of two to cut the lead to 88-84 with 52.4 seconds left. Rose got the rebound on the missed free throw, but Stoudemire blocked Ginobili's 3-point try.

    Marbury, who averaged 35.7 points and 8.3 assists in the three previous games against San Antonio, sank two free throws with 25.6 seconds to go to make it 90-84. Stoudemire added two more from the line to wrap things up.

    The quick Suns created mismatches with a small lineup.

    "It's just a tough matchup for them,'' Phoenix coach Frank Johnson said. "We've got shooters in the corners, and sometimes they'll have Robinson or Duncan on Marion. That's not a matchup.''

    Trailing 43-38 at the break, San Antonio went on a 10-2 run to start the second half to go up 48-45 on Bruce Bowen's breakaway stuff with 9:14 to go in the third quarter.

    Joe Johnson scored six in a 7-0 spurt that gave Phoenix a 62-55 lead with 2:25 to go in the third. The other point came on Marion's free throw after Stephen Jackson was called for a technical.

    Ginobili sank a 3-pointer as Jake Voskuhl fouled Duncan inside. Duncan made the free throw for a four-point play that cut the Suns' lead to 64-62 with 56.8 seconds left in the quarter. But the Spurs committed two turnovers and Phoenix scored the last six of the third, four by Marbury, to go up 70-62 entering the fourth quarter. Marbury's driving layup put Phoenix up 72-62 on the opening possession of the final period.

    The Spurs committed 22 turnovers and the Suns 20.

    Game notes

    Before the game, Bo Outlaw -- who turned 32 Sunday -- received the first Dan Majerle Hustle Award, presented to the Phoenix player who most exemplifies the hustle and determination Majerle displayed. ... Outlaw played just 11 minutes after sitting out Friday night's win over Golden State with a bruised jaw and cut cheek, the result of an elbow from Denver's Raef LaFrentz last Wednesday. ... Phoenix had a 13-year playoff run snapped last season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 92
    FGM-FGA 33-71 (.465) 35-68 (.515)
    3PM-3PA 5-18 (.278) 4-8 (.500)
    FTM-FTA 14-24 (.583) 18-21 (.857)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-34 4-28
    Assists 24 22
    Turnovers 22 20
    Steals 13 11
    Blocks 7 8
    Fast Break Points 4 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (3/0) 24 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 15
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3
    Stephon Marbury Marbury
    Points: 23
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0