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Stoudemire, Nash help Suns grab 2-0 series lead over Spurs

Associated Press

5/6/2010 2:08:39 AM

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-6 three-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 on Wednesday 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 three-pointers. After starting 1-of-7 from long range, Phoenix made eight 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 for the Spurs.

The best-of-seven series shifts to San Antonio for Game 3 on Friday 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 favourite 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 per cent to 42 per cent but the Suns outrebounded taller San Antonio 49-37, 18-7 on the offensive boards. Stoudemire made just 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 Wednesday, 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.

The Suns trailed the entire first half before climbing into a 51-51 tie at the break. They had a precarious 78-76 lead entering the fourth quarter.

"I think we played well offensively," said Ginobili, playing with tape over his broken nose. "We had the shots we wanted. Again, we didn't turn the ball over that much. They played good 'D' but I think the problem was on the other side where they just picked us apart, especially in the second half."

Stoudemire scored six points and Hill made two free throws in an 8-1 spurt that put Phoenix ahead 103-92 with 3:34 to play and San Antonio never recovered.

Parker's three-pointer and Duncan's rebound dunk cut the lead to 103-97 with 2 1/2 minutes to go, but Nash floated in an underhanded left-handed bank shot and Richardson hit a 17-footer to end the comeback.

Phoenix led by 11 points early in the second quarter but the second unit, led by ever-hustling Jared Dudley, got the team back in the game, especially with its work on the offensive boards.

"I thought in the first half that Jared Dudley changed the whole game," Popovich said. "He came in and he was committed to the boards and it became infectious."

NOTES: Gentry said injured C Robin Lopez will travel with the team to San Antonio but there is no timetable on when he might appear in a game. ... The "Los Suns" jerseys were worn twice in the regular season, both Phoenix victories. ... Sarver gave his usual centre court seats to his children at the far end of the front row. ... George Hill again was San Antonio's starting point guard but Parker started the second half for the second straight game and played 36 minutes to Hill's 30.