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NBA Playoffs

Suns Escape the Grizzlies; Duncan, Spurs Drum Nuggets

Associated Press
Thursday, April 28, 2005; Page D10

The Memphis Grizzlies got rough with the Phoenix Suns in Game 2, and it almost worked.

The Suns erased a five-point deficit with a 14-4 over the final 4 minutes 4 seconds to beat the Grizzlies, 108-103, last night in Phoenix and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round series. Game 3 is tomorrow night in Memphis.

Tim Duncan gets off to a good start, driving around Nuggets forward Nene for two of his 24 points as the Spurs evened the series at one game apiece. (Eric Gay -- AP)

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Amare Stoudemire, who scored just nine points in the series opener, had 34 points and 10 rebounds, including 18-of-22 shooting at the foul line. The physical Grizzlies sent Phoenix to the line 40 times, and the Suns made 32 free throws.

Shawn Marion, playing with a sprained right wrist, added 22 points for Phoenix, including a pair of 15-footers that tied the game, then put Phoenix ahead for good. He also grabbed 13 rebounds.

Quentin Richardson had 15 points, and had a big blocked shot in the final minute.

Joe Johnson scored 20 points, while Steve Nash had 12 points and 15 assists. His two free throws with 9.1 seconds to play put Phoenix ahead, 106-103, then after a timeout, Mike Miller missed what would have been the game-tying three-pointer from the corner, and Richardson finished it off with two free throws.

Pau Gasol overpowered the smaller Suns most of the night for 28 points and 16 rebounds, both career playoff bests. Jason Williams scored 21 points, also a career playoff high, but was scoreless in the fourth quarter.

SPURS 104, NUGGETS 76: San Antonio, at home, made nine of its first 10 shots and then outscored Denver by 20 points in the second quarter to even the first-round series at one victory each.

Game 3 will be Saturday night in Denver, with Game 4 scheduled for Monday.

San Antonio, which lost the opener Sunday after missing 17 straight shots down the stretch, went back to basics on offense -- that is, they got the ball to Tim Duncan.

On his first touch, Duncan drove on Kenyon Martin and hit a short bank shot. Next trip down, he backed down Marcus Camby in the post and flipped in a jump hook.

Establishing Duncan early created shots on the perimeter, and the Spurs made them. They hit their first four three-pointers, two by Brent Barry, and they owned an 11-point lead less than eight minutes into the game.

Tony Parker scored 12 points in the first period, matching his total for all of Game 1. He finished with 19 points.

Duncan had 24 points, while reserve Manu Ginobili added 17 points in 18 minutes. Barry, who started in Ginobili's place, made all four of his three-point shots for 16 points.

DerMarr Johnson led Denver with 12 points. Andre Miller added 11 and Carmelo Anthony 10, while Camby had 12 rebounds.

The Nuggets made three of their first four shots, then missed nine of their next 10 before a driving layup by Miller made it 23-12.

Wesley Person made a corner three-pointer early in the second quarter to trim San Antonio's lead to 29-21, but the Nuggets followed with another dry spell while the Spurs piled up points.

A 10-foot jump hook by Duncan restored the Spurs' double-digit lead with about 11 minutes left in the half. Less than four minutes later, a short runner by Parker made it 46-25. Parker later dumped a pass to Duncan for a dunk that extended San Antonio's lead to 30 points with 2 minutes 27 seconds left.

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