Thomas sparks Suns’ rally past defending champs
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns have three very good point guards.
And all of them were on the floor the final four minutes when the Phoenix Suns rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs Friday night.
The newcomer of the trio, Isaiah Thomas, led the way.
Thomas scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half — 10 in the fourth quarter — rallying Phoenix with a relentless series of driving layups, and the Suns won 94-89.
They came back to win it with Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic on the floor together, harassing the Spurs on defense.
"I think it puts a lot of pressure on teams with who they’re going to guard," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "All those guys just turned it up defensively and that’s what we need."
The Spurs’ last field goal came with 5:09 to play.
Phoenix never led until Thomas’ layup made it 88-87 with 3:34 to play. It was part of a 10-0 run that put the Suns up 92-87 on Markieff Morris’ dunk, on a pass from Alex Len, with 1:09 left.
Manu Ginobili made two of three free throws with 59.8 seconds left to cut the lead to 92-89. Then San Antonio had a chance to tie at the finish.
But, with 6.5 seconds remaining, Boris Diaw couldn’t get the ball inbounds and was called for a five-second violation just as he tried to signal timeout.
"I was waiting for someone to come out of a screen," he said. "When he came out of a screen he was not open. I thought I called it (the timeout) in time. He (the referee) whistled and said it was too late."
Thomas said the Suns have so many good shooters it clears the way for drives to the basket.
"I mean, once I got by my defender, sometimes I just walked into a layup," he said.
Tony Parker scored 19 for the Spurs, but just three in the fourth quarter. Tim Duncan added 16, none in the final quarter.
Ginobili’s free throws were San Antonio’s only points in the final 5:09.
"I know we are supposed to be 82 and 0," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I am guessing we are going to lose more games before the season is over."
The Spurs’ last field goal, a 3-pointer by Austin Daye, put the reigning NBA champions ahead 87-82 with 5:09 to go.
Morris added 20 for the Suns. Len had 10 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs. Bledsoe, on a 3-for-15 shooting night, sealed the win with two free throws. He had 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Spurs took a quick 15-point lead as Phoenix shot 5-for-23 (22 percent) in the first quarter, missing 10 in a row before Len’s tip-in with two seconds to play.
But Phoenix tied it at 30-30 in the second quarter. The Spurs led 45-36 at the break.
Spurs: Daye started for the Spurs after not playing at all in the opener. Matt Bonner started the opener but didn’t play on Friday. … Kahwi Leonard was back in the lineup after missing the opener with an eye infection. He was 0-for-5 shooting and scored six points
Suns: After making 16 of 32 3-pointers in the rout of the Lakers in its opener, Phoenix shot 2-of-18 Friday. … The Suns again were without forward P.J. Tucker, who is serving a three-game suspension to start the season because of his offseason DUI arrest.
The last time he played the Spurs, Bledsoe had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He had a rough night Friday. In the first half Friday, he shot 1-for-9 and scored five points and was 1-for-10 when, in the third quarter, he crashed in for a dunk on an offensive rebound and was fouled for a three-point play. Then he missed his final two shots.
At 9 p.m., local time, the deadline passed for the Spurs to re-sign Leonard. The two sides were not talking. Now the Spurs can’t re-sign him until next summer or he can opt to test the market as a restricted free agent.
Spurs: Don’t play until Thursday, when they are home against Atlanta.
Suns: At Utah Saturday night.