Parker, Spurs top beleaguered Suns

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PHOENIX --- Amare Stoudemire assessed the San Antonio Spurs' masterful domination of his Phoenix Suns in one simple sentence.

"That," he said, "is how you win a title."

Or, in the Spurs' case, many titles, and they look well on their way to winning what would be their fourth NBA championship in six seasons.

Tony Parker scored a career-high 41 points and added 12 assists in the Spurs' 115-99 victory Friday, giving San Antonio a 3-0 series lead. Parker is averaging 33 points in the series.

"Tony has been very aggressive and just done a great job at both ends of the floor," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's just been phenomenal. I don't know what else to say about him."

Phoenix took away Parker's easy layups just like it wanted to. So he just made jump shot after jump shot after jump shot.

"They were backing off on the pick-and-rolls," he said, "so I just took the shot, and it felt good tonight."

Everything felt good for the defending NBA champions, who never trailed in winning their ninth consecutive playoff game and 13th of 14, dating to last season.

"We possibly played our best game of the year," Popovich said.

San Antonio can finish the sweep today in Phoenix.

It's the first three-game losing streak for the Suns this season.

"They were almost perfect," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We didn't play well, and I'll take the blame for that, but you've got to give them a lot of credit. They played great."

Phoenix acquired Shaquille O'Neal to better match up with the Spurs, but the Suns are one loss away from being swept in a seven-game series for the first time since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in the 1988-89 Western Conference finals.

Tim Duncan added 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Manu Ginobili scored 20 points in the Spurs' fourth consecutive playoff road victory.

But Parker did the most damage, often on the pick-and-roll that has flustered Phoenix all series.

"It was crazy the way he played," Ginobili said. "The way he handled the pressure, and he made tons of jumpers."

Ginobili scored 26 points in Game 1 and 32 in Game 2.

The Suns cut the lead to 13 points twice in the fourth quarter, the last on Raja Bell's 3-pointer with 7:35 to play, but Parker countered with his first 3 of the game, and the Suns were finished.

"We just played great. Sometimes that happens," Parker said.

The packed house in the Suns' first home game of the playoffs booed Popovich's "Hack-a-Shaq" tactics in the first half, but they turned on the home team when the Spurs took a 23-point lead with 51/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

"We never were ourselves. We just never really got going," the Suns' Steve Nash said. "I don't think there were guys on our team that weren't trying hard, but when they start making every shot, I think guys in that respect just didn't know where to turn."

CELTICS VS. HAWKS


Best of seven series, Boston leads 2-0

GAME 1: Boston 104, Atlanta 81


GAME 2: Boston 96, Atlanta 77


GAME 3: Boston at Atlanta, late


MONDAY: Boston at Atlanta, 8 p.m.


WEDNESDAY: Atlanta at Boston, TBA, if necessary


FRIDAY: Boston at Atlanta, TBA, if necessary

MAY 4: Atlanta at Boston, TBA, if necessary


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